Mark Rylance Cast as Steven Spielberg’s The BFG

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DreamWorks Studios has announced that three-time Tony Award winner Mark Rylance has been cast as the title character in The BFG, Steven Spielberg’s big screen adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel.

Originally published in 1982, The BFG tells the tale of a young girl, the Queen of England and a benevolent giant known as the BFG, who set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world. John Cleese was originally tapped to star in a film version during the mid-’90s when Kathleen Kennedy was producing, though Brits should be happy that Spielberg has stuck with casting a proper Englishman for the role.

“As I witnessed on stage, Mark Rylance is a transformational actor,” said Spielberg, who is currently directing Rylance in the cold war thriller St. James Place with Tom Hanks. “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.”

Rylance earned Tony’s for his roles in “Boeing Boeing,” “Jerusalem” and “Twelfth Night.” He’s had showy parts on the big screen in period pieces The Other Boleyn Girl and Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous, and will next be seen opposite Sean Penn in Pierre Morel’s action film The Gunman and in the lead role for the BBC’s much-anticipated adaptation of “Wolf Hall.”

Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Sam Mercer will produce The BFG from a screenplay by Melissa Matheson (E.T.), with production commencing in early 2015 with a U.S. release date on July 1, 2016. The Walt Disney Company is distributing the film in the U.S.