DreamWorks has set three-time Tony Award winner and two-time Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance to play the title role in  The BFG.  Steven Spielberg will direct the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic kid novel. Published in 1982, BFG concerns a young girl, the Queen of England and a benevolent giant known as the BFG. The three set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world.

mark rylanceThe film gets underway early next year and Disney releases it July 1, 2016 in the U.S. DreamWorks’ financier Reliance will release in India and Mister Smith is handling distribution in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“As I witnessed on stage, Mark Rylance is a transformational actor,” Spielberg said in a statement. “I am excited and thrilled that Mark will be making this journey with us to Giant Country. 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 Dahl estate also gives Rylance a thumbs up. Said the author’s grandson Luke Kelly, who is Managing Director of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate: “We are ecstatic at this choice. Mark is incredibly talented, one of the great British actors working today. I’ve had the privilege of seeing
Mark perform, and the thought of watching him transform into ‘the only nice and jumbly Giant in Giant Country’ is, as The BFG himself might say, absolutely phizz-whizzing.”

bfgbookRylance is currently working with Steven Spielberg on the untitled Cold War thriller he’s directing with Tom Hanks in the starring role. Rylance’s other upcoming projects include The Gunman, Days And Nights, and the BBC adaptation of  Wolf Hall. Rylance won his Tonys for Boeing Boeing, Jerusalem and Twelfth Night and the two Olivier Awards were for Much Ado About Nothing and Jerusalem. His deal was made by Hamilton Hodell and Peikoff Mahan Law Office.

DreamWorks acquired the long gestating book in 2010 and E.T. scribe Melissa Mathison adapted it. Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Sam Mercer are producing. Kathleen Kennedy, a catalyst in getting this up and running, will exec produce with John Madden and Michael Siegel. Kristie Macosko Krieger and Adam Somner are co-producers.