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Mark Rylance on playing Disney’s Big Friendly Giant


For many, the Roald Dahl story “The BFG” is a classic tale from their childhood. That puts extra pressure on actor Mark Rylance who took on the role in the new Steven Spielberg directed movie from Disney.

In an interview with Rylance we asked about his participation in the movie including what it was like the first time he saw himself on screen as a the BFG.

“…normally as an actor, you see yourself in the mirror before you go on set. But I had no idea what this would look like. I thought a lot about when I should ask Steven to be involved, but I thought, ‘he’ll know what’s right.’ It wasn’t as uncomfortable as seeing myself normally on screen, which I usually just can’t bear, you know. This was different enough that it was a little more distanced.”

Most Rylance’s performance was motion capture in the style of Avatar, where there’s a camera trained on the actors face to capture both performances simultaneously. That requires some unique physicality for the role.

“I have a camera on my head, and I’m wearing a funny suit with a kind of silver nipples and ping pong balls or something all over the place. I exist in a computer. I’ll have a doll on the table, which would be Sophie, and then Ruby (Barnhill) would be kneeing behind the table, so I can actually have eye contact with her.”

“Then in the afternoon, we would go to her set next door, and this table would now be much bigger than my room, and these props would be six foot high. There she’d be, standing in scale. And I would be up in a high tower to give the right line of eye-sight.”

There’s definitely a balance between technology and making sure the actors are able to give real performances despite the difference in scale.

Watch the latest trailer from Disney’s “The BFG”

According to Rylance his favorite Gobblefunk word, or at least the one that’s most fun to say, is “scrumdiddlyumptious.” What is your favorite Gobblefunk word?

Disney’s “The BFG” stomps into theaters July 1, 2016!

About “The BFG”

The talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers – Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg – finally unite to bring Dahl’s beloved classic “The BFG” to life. Directed by Spielberg, Disney’s “The BFG” tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country.

The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) on the other hand, are twice as big and at least twice as scary and have been known to eat humans, while the BFG prefers Snozzcumber and Frobscottle.

Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a giant before, has many questions. The BFG brings Sophie to Dream Country where he collects dreams and sends them to children, teaching her all about the magic and mystery of dreams.

Having both been on their own in the world up until now, their affection for one another quickly grows, but Sophie’s presence in Giant Country has attracted the unwanted attention of the other giants, who have become increasingly more bothersome. Sophie and the BFG soon depart for London to see the Queen (Penelope Wilton) and warn her of the precarious giant situation, but they must first convince the Queen and her maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall), that giants do indeed exist. Together, they come up with a plan to get rid of the giants once and for all.