Entertainment & Arts

Mark Rylance to play BFG in Steven Spielberg film

Mark Rylance and Steven Spielberg Image copyright AP
Image caption Spielberg said he was 'honoured' Rylance (left) had accepted the title role in The BFG

Mark Rylance will play the title role in The BFG, Steven Spielberg's film of Roald Dahl's much-loved children's book about a "Big Friendly Giant".

The director said he was "excited and thrilled" that the "transformational actor... will be making this journey with us to Giant Country".

Rylance's career so far had been "about making the courageous choice", he said.

The Jurassic Park film-maker is currently working with Rylance on his new untitled Cold War spy thriller.

Production on The BFG will begin in early 2015.

Luke Kelly, Roald Dahl's grandson and managing director of the author's estate, called Rylance "one of the great British actors working today".

"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."

Rylance, the winner of three Tony Awards and two Oliviers, is known for his association with Shakespeare's Globe in London and for playing Johnny "Rooster" Byron in stage hit Jerusalem.

In Jez Butterworth's award-winning play, his caravan-dwelling character was seen telling a tall tale about meeting a 90-foot giant.

The actor also recently lent his voice to a character called Flop in the children's animation Bing on Cbeebies.

First published in 1982, the BFG tells of an orphaned girl named Sophie who is befriended one night by a kindly giant.

The film will be released in July 2016 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the author's birth.

Dahl, who died in 1990 at the age of 74, considered The BFG one of his favourite books.

Sir David Jason provided the voice of the title character in an animated version made by ITV in 1989.

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