Mark Rylance to Star in Steven Spielberg's 'The BFG'

By Jon Sobel on Oct 28, 2014 10:18 AM EDT

Mark Rylance, the Broadway and London stage star with two Tony Awards and two Olivier Awards to his name, has secured the title role in Steven Spielberg's upcoming film The BFG based on the Roald Dahl children's book.

Dahl's "BFG" (Big Friendly Giant) is a benevolent giant who accompanies a young girl and the Queen of England on an adventure to battle bigger, people-eating giants. The 1982 book was adapted into an animated film in 1989.

Spielberg evidently recognizes the unusual phenomenon of an actor becoming so well known for his stage work that he turns into a hot lead-role property for the movies, as opposed to the more usual Hollywood star-takes-on-Broadway progression.

"As I witnessed on stage," the multi-Oscar-winning director said, "Mark Rylance is a transformational actor. 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 also plays a supporting role in Spielberg's currently filming production, St. James Place, a cold war thriller starring Tom Hanks.

His earlier screen appearances include The Other Boleyn Girl, the animated TV series Bing and the role of Thomas Cromwell in the upcoming miniseries Wolf Hall (a story that's also coming to Broadway after a successful London run).

Mark Rylance was most recently seen on Broadway in Richard III and the immensely popular Twelfth Night, both imports from Shakespeare's Globe in London. He won his second Tony Award for his performance as Olivia in the latter. Broadway audiences have also seen him in Boeing-Boeing (Tony Award), Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem (Olivier Award and another Tony) and La Bête.

His next big stage role comes in February 2015 when he appears on the West End in Farinelli and the King, a new play with music by his wife Claire van Kampen. Rylance will play King Philip V in the dramatization of the life of the world's most famous castrato.

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TagsMark Rylance, Tony Awards, Olivier Awards, Wolf Hall, Steven Spielberg, The BFG, Roald Dahl, Thomas Cromwell, The Other Boleyn Girl, Twelfth Night, Richard III, Jez Butterworth, broadway, West End

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