Giants of The BFG Mark Rylance and Jemaine Clement Interview
Yesterday I shared our interview with Steven Spielberg and Ruby Barnhill about making the film The BFG. Today I’m excited to share our conversation about with the Giants of The BFG – Mark Rylance and Jemaine Clement. The Big Friendly Giant isn’t the only huge star in the film, there are nine other giants that make up the villains of the movie.
Mark Rylance gave a stunning performance of The Big Friendly Giant, his relationship with Sophie was pure gold to watch on screen. I actually loved seeing the other giants on the screen as well. Jemaine’s character Fleshlumpeater added a lot of humor to the movie. We learned quite a few things from these guys about the making of The BFG.
Just like Steven did when he walked in the room for the interview, Mark immediately picked up the POP figure of The BFG on the desk. He said he hadn’t seen it before and he wanted to have one for his personal collection. He even shared how he felt it would be a great toy for his dog. After he played with the figure, Jemaine picked it up and started playing with it as well.
Getting into character for the film isn’t easy, according to Rylance it took an hour and a half to prepare for filming each morning. The process involved putting on glow in the dark marbles, battery packs, and painting on glow in the dark dots through a tight hockey mask. He used that time to reflect on various things, including getting into the right head space for the character. For Rylance becoming The BFG was like being a child again.
I thought the film was most CGI, however we learned it was done in motion capture, which according to Rylance and Clement, it like being on a huge playground every day. There are no marks and cameras every where. You just have to imagine it and speak the lines.
You’re probably wondering how hard it is to speak giant. It seemed like Rylance and Clement had nailed the language in the film.
Mark Rylance: Very hard. Very hard indeed yeah, I don’t think there are any actors in the world that could have done what Jemaine and I have done.
Jemaine Clement: What is that actually, it’s improvising in giant.
Rylance: Improvising in giant, yeah it’s like improving in Shakespeare, it’s tricky. I’ve heard people who can do that actually very well, can improvise sonnets. You can say I wanna sonnet on a fried egg and they will improvise a Shakespearean sonnet on a fried egg, they’re from Liverpool. But improvising in giant is a little tricky.
We asked Mark about speaking in giant for us, he joked saying it would cost a lot of money. We quickly pointed out, in a room full of moms, all our money has already been spent by the kids. He laughs and starts talking to us about some of his favorite giant words like ‘telly-telly bumpkin box’ – the word for television. We talk in giant for a bit before continuing the interview.
The giants were scary to watch on the screen at times, and their treatment of The BFG was awful but Fleshlumpeater was hilarious. We asked Jemaine how much did he have with the movie, since the giant he played was scary but hilarious at the same time.
Jemaine Clement: Yeah he’s really fun. When Mark was filming all the time, the bad giants would get to rehearse our motion capture by just walking around like big, lumbering lumps of meat, and that was really fun. Smashing things and intimidating people and being stupid is fun.
We followed up by asking if his sons liked his character and the book.
Jemaine Clement: My son really loves it. He helped me a lot actually, I read him the book again when we got to Vancouver, he’d already heard it but he would always – if he didn’t like the voice – he’d go, no the other voice, and that’s how I found the voice he’d guide me.
Clement’s favorite scene from the movie was the first time he visited The BFG in his cave, when Sophie was there. It’s one of those humor parts of the film that radiates off the screen when ever the giants are on screen. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen the film yet. Oddly enough according to Clement that particular dialogue was an ad-lib that remained in the movie.
We asked Mark about what were his favorite scenes with Sophie. Steven Spielberg shared with us during his interview that seeing Mark and Ruby together was his favorite part of the film. We wanted to know how Rylance felt about working with the young actress.
Mark Rylance: Oh, so many of them. Someone asked me on television this morning what was one of the most difficult things about being BFG and the most difficult thing is letting a young person go isn’t it, that every parent has to do. My parents are both teachers, high school teachers so every year they would know that there were favorite kids that really resonated to their work or were witty or just wonderful kids and it was always sad every year that those kids had to go off, they had to go off to college and to marriage and their lives. That thing of being an adult who really loves a young person, and if you really love them you have to encourage them to leave you and to go away.
There is a scene I love very, very much, it’s on the hill at the end and she doesn’t even want to go away, she thinks she’s gonna stay and live there, but he knows that she’s got a wider life to lead. She’s mortal of course and he’s immortal so I was thinking the other day, I was thinking yesterday that the sequel I’d like to see would be when Sophie’s a 90 year old woman and she’s had a family and maybe she has a grandchild and BFG still visits her, and he’s the same of course.
Wondering what Mark was hoping kids would take away from the film, we asked him about what kind of feeling he hoped they would take from the movie.
Mark Rylance: I think that the film tells a story of what kids have to offer older people. Older people get tired, they lose faith, they think maybe the world is just a jungle, a dog eat dog kinda thing and nothing will change, so best to just do the best I can, give some money to charity, maybe be kind to some people, but the big problems, nothing’s gonna change and we get tired.
Young people don’t have this, there’s still the bravery and the hope like Sophie does to say, no we don’t have to put up with this, we can stop these giants from eating kids, let’s go to the Queen. There’s a lot of criticism of young people and things seem so hard for them, certainly for my daughters, life looks so difficult and hard but they’re so essential. I want them to keep their bravery and hope and don’t get pressed down by the fears and the apathy of older people.
He continued by saying that so many people have grown out of their difficult childhood, even quoting Bob Dylan saying that he gained his imagination from being indoors for seven months due to the cold weather in Minnesota.
“The BFG” opens in U.S. theaters on July 1, 2016, the year that marks the 100th anniversary of Dahl’s birth.
About The BFG
The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like theother 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 theBFG 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.
Disclosure: I attended an all expenses paid press junket with Disney, any opinions expressed are my own. Photos provided by Walt Disney Studios and Coralie S. of Lovebugs and Postcards.
Be sure to read the other posts from #TheBFGEvent
A Legend and a Newcomer: Steven Spielberg and Ruby Barnhill BFG Interview #TheBFGEvent #TheBFG
Spending Time in Giant Country: My BFG Red Carpet Experience #TheBFGEvent
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