Are you getting excited for The BFG to hit theaters tomorrow July 1st? I know I am! To help get you excited today, I am going to share our amazing interview with Penelope Wilson, who plays the Queen and Rebecca Hall who plays Mary in The BFG.
Our interview was filled with laughs, so much excitement and joy!
Q: Can you tell us how you both got involved in the project?
PENELOPE WILTON: Well, I, I got a phone call, and my agent said Steven Spielberg wants you to do this film, “The BFG,” and I said yes. If Steven Spielberg wants you to do a movie, you do it. Wouldn’t you say?
REBECCA HALL: Yes, I would. I had exactly the same thing. I got a call saying it’s not a very big part but he has asked specifically for you to do it, so I’m like well, I’ll do it, of course, I will. Also, BFG is, a book that as a child I loved, so even before I’d read the script or knew what the part was, I was like yes, certainly I want to be a part of that, of course, you know?
Q: Were you still filming “Downton Abbey” when you got the call?
PENELOPE WILTON: Well, I hadn’t started the last series, so they were very accommodating, and they said, because I was going to be in the middle of the shoot, so because Julian hadn’t written it all, he sort of worked around me a bit, for just over a month and then that was fine.
Q: And it must have been interesting going from one character to the other.
PENELOPE WILTON: Yes, it was, when I was playing the Queen, and you know, it was all very upper class.
Q: Did you let everybody know on “Downton Abbey” know I’m the queen now?
PENELOPE WILTON: No, I didn’t. They weren’t too interested. In fact, they were rather envious. There was silence around the thing when I came back. She’s just been making a film. Who with? Oh yes.
Q: And now you are a dame, what is that like?
PENELOPE WILTON: Well, it’s rather surreal actually, to be quite honest with you, being a Dame; also when I found out about it, when they asked me to do it about seven weeks ago, and they write to you, and they sent it to the wrong address.
So, then another one went out to my agent and um, then it said priority because obviously, they hadn’t heard. They asked if the Prime Minister puts your name forward to the Queen, would you accept it? So, I said I would. And then they said you must not tell anybody until it’s released which was six weeks after. And then there was a total silence and of course, then I thought I dreamt that. That didn’t happen. I made that up. I just had a dream.
So, uh, and then it wasn’t until Sunday, a week last Sunday, then it came, Saturday it came out on papers and it did actually say my name so then I thought oh thank God. I hadn’t told anyone but my daughter. I told my daughter and my sisters. They would have been a bit disappointed as indeed I would have been.
Q. Do you have a favorite scene, personal scene from the movie?
PENELOPE WILTON: I like the dreams because it’s written in the book that they catch the dreams, but Steven made the dreams so beautiful and then the angry dreams, the red dreams, when they get caught in the bottle, when they go under the water then, I loved that. I thought that was a lovely sequence, but there were so many. I mean, I loved the giant.
REBECCA HALL: Yeah, I did too. Actually, I’ve got to say, it’s when, when you have a problem with wind, is probably my favorite.
Crowd comment – That whole scene is genius.
REBECCA HALL: It’s brilliant. It’s so funny.
PENELOPE WILTON: And we had fun playing that scene because Rafe had to do his, his proper moment before we did ours, so we all gazed at him while he did his. The effect of how it would come in silence, then all right, Rafe, the camera is on you and then he, right, go, and he had to do whiz popping, but you know, it’s a private moment that you don’t often see.
Crowd comment – That’s when acting really comes into play.
REBECCA HALL: Well, at least we’ve all experienced it.
Q: The story has so many lessons. What is something you want people to get from this story, from the movie, from just the general idea of this, what do you want people to capture from it?
PENELOPE WILTON: Well, I would — on the very basic level I want people to enjoy being taken to that world because it’s a wonderful story written by a great storyteller meeting another great storyteller and a visual storyteller, so if you get those two together, it’s a wonderful combination, but also it, like all these stories, it is people learning to understand themselves and learn that you, you have to just believe in yourself.
and little Sophie, who doesn’t have much, but when she meets somebody who has even less than she does and he’s 20 foot tall, they sort of work as a good team and they both of them understand that they are outside the norm and they give each other confidence and when you have confidence in yourself you can take on the world. And I think that’s the overall, perhaps the overall message of the movie, which is the message of a lot of very good children’s’ literature.
It’s the same in, there’s always a pursuit and a pursuer and in the end you have to turn around and face the bully and if you do that the world opens up and I think in a wonderful way, not in the sort of preachy way.
REBECCA HALL: The magical way.
PENELOPE WILTON: The magical way, that’s what the movie is saying.
Q: What makes this film special for each of you?
PENELOPE WILTON: I’m lucky Steven Spielberg has done great things in my life, in my career actually and so that was special. Also, this is a wonderful story, wonderful to be part of something that, well I hope a lot, a whole generation of young children will remember like they did “E.T.” because it will be a stand up moment in the film so for all those reason and also I met and worked with Rebecca here so that was lovely, too.
REBECCA HALL: I think we probably met when I was a child.
PENELOPE WILTON: Yes because I worked with Rebecca’s father, Sir Peter Hall when he ran the National Theater so I remember when she was born.
REBECCA HALL: And I remember a figure who I’ve always admired and loved from afar so it was a real treat to get to work properly with you but yes, I think, I very much second what you said, it’s a combination of, for me personally it’s the combination of two such hugely influential people in my childhood, Roald Dahl and Steven Spielberg, as a child those were, the creative output of both those people really influenced me.
OFFICIAL BOILERPLATE: 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.
Directed by three-time Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg (“Bridge of Spies,” “Schindler’s List,” ”Saving Private Ryan”) from a screenplay by Melissa Mathison (“E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “The Black Stallion”) based on the best-selling novel by Roald Dahl, “The BFG” stars three-time Tony Award® and two-time Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies,” “Wolf Hall”), newcomer Ruby Barnhill, 2 Penelope Wilton (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Downton Abbey”), Jemaine Clement (“Rio 2,” “The Flight of the Conchords”), Rebecca Hall (“The Gift,” “Iron Man 3”), Rafe Spall (“The Big Short,” “Prometheus”) and Bill Hader (“Inside Out,” “Trainwreck”). The film is produced by Spielberg, Frank Marshall (“Jurassic World,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”) and Sam Mercer (“Snow White and the Huntsman,” “The Sixth Sense”) with Kathleen Kennedy (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Lincoln”), John Madden (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Shakespeare in Love”), Kristie Macosko Krieger (“Bridge of Spies,” “Lincoln”), Michael Siegel (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Rise of the Guardians”), Frank Smith and Naia Cucukov serving as executive producers.
“The BFG” opens in U.S. theaters on July 1, 2016, the year that marks the 100th anniversary of Dahl’s birth.
To find out more about the movie check out The BFG Official Facebook Page!