After a lengthy search, DreamWorks has settled on Ruby Barnhill, a 10-year-old girl from Cheshire, England, to play Sophie in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Barnhill will star with Mark Rylance who was previously set as the eponymous Big Friendly Giant. This is Barnhill’s first feature role, although she has been acting for two years, including in the BBC children’s drama Four O’Clock and at her local youth theater.
Published in 1982, The BFG is the story of a young London girl and the world’s only benevolent giant who introduces her to the beauty and peril of Giant Country. The two set off on an adventure (with the aid of the Queen of England) to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world. Spielberg is beginning production early in the New Year and Disney releases on July 1, 2016 in the U.S. EOne will bring it to the UK on July 22, 2016.
“I feel Roald Dahl himself would have found Ruby every bit as marvelous as we do. We have discovered a wonderful Sophie in Ruby Barnhill,” Spielberg said in a statement.
Barnhill also enthused, “I feel incredibly lucky and I’m so happy. Sophie gets to go on this wonderful adventure and I’m so excited that I get to play her.”
Luke Kelly, Managing Director of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate and Dahl’s grandson, said, “The character of Sophie is one of the most endearing young heroes in Roald Dahl’s stories. She is as brave as she is curious and has an innate sense of wonder. Many congratulations to Ruby on landing the role. We hope that making The BFG proves an utterly magical adventure for her.”
DreamWorks acquired the rights to the book in 2010 after Kathleen Kennedy brought it to the studio and E.T. scribe Melissa Mathison adapted it. Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Sam Mercer are producing. Kennedy, John Madden and Michael Siegel are exec producers. Kristie Macosko Krieger and Adam Somner are co-producers.
Along with the U.S., Disney has select international territories. DreamWorks’ financier Reliance will release in India and Mister Smith is handling Europe, Africa and the Middle East.