How Mark Rylance Got a Big Friendly Surprise to Star in The BFG

Jemaine Clement and Mark Rylance from The BFG
Jemaine Clement and Mark Rylance from The BFG

Mark Rylance Got a Big Friendly Surprise from Steven Spielberg to Star in The BFG

Mark Rylance was playing a spy on his way to an Oscar in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” when the director wanted to talk about something. “He asked me to read a script,” Rylance tells Made in Hollywood reporter Kylie Erica Mar. “We were talking about films. I thought he was just interested in my opinion of a script. I didn’t realize it was an offer.”

Rylance went back to his hotel to read it — and knew this was an offer he couldn’t refuse. “It made me laugh and moved me, too,” he recalls. An adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic “The BFG,” the movie would star Rylance, but his face and actions were manipulated by computers to transform him into the Big Friendly Giant.

Mark Rylance Recalls the Surreal Experience of Acting in the CGI-Heavy The BFG

Working in the world of computer animation was foreign to the renowned stage actor, and it required some getting to used to. Rylance climbed on towers — later erased digitally — so that it would look like he was looming over his young costar Rubie Barnhill. He would  crouch during his scenes with the much taller giant Fleshlumpeater, played by Jemaine Clement.

A member of the New Zealand comedy-music duo Flight of the Conchords, Clement also had never experienced anything like this set.

“When I was doing a scene with Mark, I’m watching him. To see it in the film, it’s exactly what he did but it’s The BFG doing it,” says Clement. “It doesn’t look exactly the same. It’s quite an uncanny feeling.”