The organisers of the London press conference for Spielberg’s The BFG must have had a Jaws moment early on, realising they were “gonna need a bigger room”. Not that it was any surprise the event was packed. When the line-up includes the legendary director himself, as well as Oscar winner Mark Rylance and recently appointed Dame, Penelope Wilton, it’s going to get noticed.
Ruby Barnhill, the film’s eleven year old female lead, and Rebecca Hall completed the panel and both had great memories of working with the director on the film, with Hall admitting they spent a lot of time talking about movies. “It’s a real treat to have a movie geek conversation with Steven Spielberg,” she recalled. How lucky can you get?
Now in his 70th year, Spielberg has so many projects on the books that his legacy isn’t something he thinks about much. “I’m so busy now, I’m so busy looking ahead. I get a chance to look back sometimes, when I’m being interviewed and talking about movies, but I don’t do it often.” But he added another perspective to the diversity debate with his comments about ageism in Hollywood. “When directors get older, they still have the passion and the determination to tell stories, but because of their age the people who do the hiring look at you as a relic from the past.” His own answer to that was to found DreamWorks in 1994, on the basis that “I am not that relic from the past. If I have to hire myself and if I have to form a studio to keep myself working, then that’s what I’m going to do!”
Check out a highlight video from Saturday’s press conference below and you can find our review of The BFG here.
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 Snozzcumbers 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. Says Spielberg, “It’s a story about friendship, it’s a story about loyalty and protecting your friends and it’s a story that shows that even a little girl can help a big giant solve his biggest problems.” 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.
The BFG opens in UK cinemas on July 22nd.