Steven Spielberg is in the midst of shooting his next film starring Tom Hanks – a currently officially-untitled Cold War drama/thriller (inspired by real events) that may end up being called St. James Place. Even so, he’s now started preparing his followup project, The BFG, to begin production in the first half of 2015.
The BFG reunites Spielberg with screenwriter Melissa Mathison (E.T.), who penned the script based on Dahl’s acclaimed children’s book (first released in 1982). The latter tells the story of a young orphan girl named Sophie, who is whisked away one night by the Big Friendly Giant (BFG for short) and taken to the latter’s distant home – a place that is populated by giants that are not just blood-thirsty (unlike the kindly BFG), but also much larger than Sophie’s massive companion.
For a while, we’ve been championing James Cromwell (American Horror Story: Asylum) to take the lead in Spielberg’s Roald Dahl adaptation, going back to when it was first announced that Mathison had become involved as the screenwriter. As it were, the director has finally settled on another, but equally talented, leading man for the title role.
Three-time Tony award-winning actor Mark Rylance, who is also costarring in Spielberg’s Cold War drama, will play the BFG in Spielberg’s big-budget, live-action take on the story, following David Jason’s vocal performance as the character in a 1989 animated film adaptation. Spielberg, in his official statement, praised Rylance for being a “transformational actor” and added that “Everything about his career so far is about making the courageous choice and I’m honored he has chosen ‘The BFG’ as his next big screen performance.”
The next big casting announcement for Spielberg’s BFG will be the role of Sophie, though the character (like the film’s namesake) may well not be played by an already established young star. Spielberg’s name and Dahl’s source material are big enough draws to ensure that The BFG doesn’t need an A-list cast to sell it. Thus, the film could end up introducing a young breakout talent, similar to what Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (starring a young teenaged Christian Bale) did back in 1987.
BFG, under Spielberg’s direction, ought to be the rare effects-heavy tentpole released nowadays (especially in the summertime) that’s a true family-friendly adventure, as much (if not more so) than Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin was, back in 2011. The film may also be a fun and refreshing change of pace for its director, who’s been more invested in making awards-season friendly dramatic fare of late (see: War Horse, Lincoln, and the aforementioned Cold War film).
The BFG opens in U.S. theaters on July 1st, 2016.