Mark Rylance & Jemaine Clement ~ Stepping Into GIANT Country #TheBFGEvent

by Heather


After sitting down with Director Steven Spielberg and Ruby Barnhill (“Sophie”) I had to take a quick moment to regroup. There were so many thoughts and feelings that emerged during the conversation that I briefly forgot that we were supposed to be preparing for our sit down with Mark Rylance (“The BFG”) and Jemaine Clement (“Fleshlumpeater”).

I started flipping through my notes and couldn’t help getting lost in the conversation we just had when the announcement came that Mark Rylance and Jemaine Clement were getting ready to join us. I made sure everything was in place and then looked up just in time to see the pair making their way to their seats. I couldn’t help but grin as I saw The BFG and Fleshlumpeater before us in human form.

Mark had a huge smile on his face and a magic in his eyes that reminded me of a young boy looking for mischief. Jemaine was a bit more mysterious. He regarded the 25 bloggers before him, gave a brief nod to the one male in the group, and then settled in at the table. I couldn’t help but smirk and shake my head as I silently thought to myself … perfect casting!

Then the fun began! At our welcome dinner on Monday evening we all received a The BFG Pop! Vinyl and James from The Rockfather brought his with him to the interviews. He set it up on the table where the talent was going to be sitting and everyone that came in took a few minutes to become better acquainted with the little guy. The neat part about this interview was the Mark Rylance was coming face to face with a miniature version of “himself” and this was his first time seeing it. If there wasn’t a tight schedule that everyone was attempting to adhere to I am pretty sure that he would have played for hours and there is a good chance that he would have brought out a bit of The BFG and perhaps even spoken to us in Winglish. It was a brief glimpse into the world that is The BFG and I am lucky to have been a part of it.


With a bit of prompting from our rep it was down to business. Here is what we learned about The BFG and Fleshlumpeater!

QUESTION:  How did you come into character and get into character every day to play your part?

MARK RYLANCE:  Every morning it took about an hour and a half of them sticking glow in the dark marbles on us and battery packs and having a lot of painted dots painted on, about 45 minutes of having dots painted on your face through a, like a hockey mask, a tight hockey mask.  So there was a lot of time to think and listen to music or just get yourself in a certain head space but, apart from that I don’t know how you prepare but it’s just playful, it’s the same as ever, you just start to play like a child really.

You think what do I need, here comes a 50-foot giant into my cave who’s gonna eat my little friend, I need to distract him, what am I gonna do?  And so its clear rules to the game and you just start to play.  I mean what was fun for us was in motion capture there’s no cameras, there’s no marks, there’s just a, like a playground isn’t there, you just start to play and imagine it and speak the lines.

QUESTION:  How hard is it to speak giant?

MARK RYLANCE:  Very hard.  Very hard indeed. Yeah, I don’t think there are any actors in the world that could have done what Jemaine and I have done.

JEMAINE CLEMENT:  What that is actually, it’s improvising in giant.

MARK RYLANCE:  Improvising in giant, yeah it’s like improvising in Shakespeare, it’s tricky.  I’ve heard people who can do that actually very well, can improvise sonnets.  You can say I want a sonnet on a fried egg and they will improvise a Shakespearean sonnet on a friend egg, they’re from Liverpool.  But improvising in giant is a little tricky.


QUESTION:  Do you still speak a little giant now?  Can you do it for us now?

MARK RYLANCE:  Can I speak giant for you now?

YOUR’S TRULY {ME}:  No pressure.  No pressure.

MARK RYLANCE:  That would cost you a lot of money, how much money have you got?

BLOGGER: We’re moms we don’t have a lot.

MARK RYLANCE:  I know.  I know, my favorite word I’ve decided is telly-telly bunkum box.  I think that’s such a good word for the television.

QUESTION:  Do you use it on a regular basis now?

MARK RYLANCE:   I will now.  I am lately yeah.

BLOGGER: Whizpoppers.

MARK RYLANCE:  Whizpoppers, yeah.  Are you all happy about the kids having the whizpopper word?


BLOGGER:  Oh my son’s been using it quite often now.

MARK RYLANCE:  An English mom just told me that her son went in with a story and it included the word fart and the teacher rejected the story and said other parents would be really offended, that fart was a swear word, I don’t think fart’s a swear word.  Is whizpopper a better word?

JEMAINE CLEMENT:  I think it is better.  For people to have known what it is they have to have read a book or they can see the movie.


QUESTION: Jemaine, how much fun did you have with this particular giant? He’s very scary but at the same time he’s hilarious.

JEMAINE CLEMENT:  Yeah, he’s really fun. Mark was filming all the time, but the bad giants, we would get to rehearse our motion capture and walk around like big, lumbering, lumps of meat, and that was really fun and smashing things and intimidating people and being stupid is fun.

QUESTION:  How did your kids like it?

JEMAINE CLEMENT:  My son really loves it.  He helped me a lot actually, I read him the book again when we got to Vancouver, he’d already heard it but if he didn’t like the voice he’d go, no the other voice, and that’s how I found the voice, he’d guide me.

(Left to right) Gizzardgulper, Childchewer, Maidmasher, Bloodbottler, Manhugger, Fleshlumpeater, Meatdripper, Butcher Boy, and Bonecruncher surround the BFG in Disney's THE BFG, the imaginative story of a young girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and the Big Friendly Giant (Oscar (R) winner Mark Rylance) who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. Directed by Steven Spielberg based on Roald Dahl's beloved classic, the film opens in theaters nationwide on July 1.

QUESTION:   Was there a particular scene you enjoyed filming the most or you liked being captured the most, you said you liked smashing things.

JEMAINE CLEMENT:  I think the first time that I come and see Mark in his cave. And I love that part where I ask if you’re there and you say no.


QUESTION:  Do you have a favorite scene with Sophie?

MARK RYLANCE:  Oh, so many of them.  I think the thing that someone asked me on television this morning was, what was one of the difficult things about being BFG? The most difficult thing is letting a young person go isn’t it, that is something that that every parent has to do. My parents are both teachers, high school teachers, so every year I would know that there were favorite kids that really resonated to their work or were witty or just wonderful kids and it was always sad every year that those kids had to go off, they had to go off to college and to marriage and their lives. That thing of being an adult who really loves a young person, and if you really love them you have to encourage them to leave you and to go away.

That is a scene I love very, very much, it’s on the hill at the end and she doesn’t even want to go away, she thinks she’s gonna stay and live there, but he knows that she’s got a wider life to lead.  She’s mortal of course and he’s immortal so I was thinking the other day, I was thinking yesterday that the sequel I’d like to see would be when Sophie’s a 90 year old woman and she’s had a family and maybe she has a grandchild and the BFG still visits her, he’s the same of course.  But he visits her maybe in her old people’s home and that friendship after she lived her whole life that would be quite resonant wouldn’t it?

BLOGGER: Yes, that would be amazing.


QUESTION:   What do you hope kids will come away with from this film, what are you hoping their reaction will be?

MARK RYLANCE:  The film tells a story of what kids have to offer older people, that older people get tired, they lose faith, they think maybe the world is just a jungle, a dog eat dog kinda thing and nothing will change, so best to just do the best I can, give some money to charity, be kind to some people, but the big problems, nothing’s gonna change and we get tired.

Young people don’t have this, there’s still the bravery and the hope like Sophie does to say, no I think we don’t have to put up with this, we can stop these people eating kids, let’s go to the Queen.  Young people, there’s such a lot of criticism of young people and things seem so hard for them, certainly for my daughters, life looks so difficult and hard but they’re so essential and they keep their bravery and hope and don’t get pressed down by the fears and the apathy of older people.

It’s not their fault we’re just tired, but, I think that young people can change things, things can change you know?  So that’s a good thing.  I also think that you can get into phases as a young person where you feel really alone like Sophie does, and isolated or with no friends but, the thing that happens to her because of that is she develops this great imagination, and when she does meet a friend, it’s her imagination that’s able to really solve the situation.

So there are good things even in the worst situation.  So many great adults have grown out of very difficult childhoods where they’ve been bullied or they’ve been poor or they’ve been lonely or isolated and, not to give up hope in those situations I guess. I would have said that to myself when I had difficult times when I felt bullied or whatever.  But those are the times that, it’s like Bob Dylan says, where did his imagination come from people ask him, he said, well if you sit in a house for seven months of the year looking out at freezing cold snowy weather in Hibbing, Minnesota you develop an imagination.

So there’s good things in that kind of apparently bad situation.  Sorry that’s the long answer.


QUESTION:  Jemaine, you really can’t have redemption without having a great villain and Disney stories are known for their heroes and their villains and both of them are seared into our memory so, what kind of went into creating this villain that was going to scare kids but yet they know that that’s part of the redemption story?

JEMAINE CLEMENT:  Oh boy, that’s a difficult question.  What would, how would you, you’re good at these kind of questions.

MARK RYLANCE:  Oh I don’t.

JEMAINE CLEMENT:  I think one part of this villain is, I see the bad giants are kind of a satire of adults and they are very stuck in their ways and fearful of things. They’re so stupid that they’re dangerous without realizing it.  It can be funny but also there’s no reasoning with these characters because they won’t understand and they don’t care.

The redemption, there’s no redemption from these villains, it’s really for the BFG’s character, he needs Sophie to help him overcome them.

MARK RYLANCE:  Melissa Mathison, who so sadly died, she did research into giants and she was of the impression that at one time the giants didn’t eat kids, didn’t eat people, they actually were warriors who fought with the people, I think against the Romans. That’s kind of the mythology of it, with the Druids and the Boadicea, the great female warrior of England, but maybe it’s even earlier times than that.  So that they’ve fallen into a decadent period, I guess the hope is that with a little bit of dietary control on that terrible island they’re put on, put on a vegetarian diet, maybe they’ll change their habits.

I don’t know.  It leaves open the possibility of a sequel doesn’t it, that island.


QUESTION:   Jemaine, you have a younger son, what do you want him to get out of this movie?

JEMAINE CLEMENT:  As Mark said it’s a lot about letting children know that their thoughts are valid.  And they can have an opinion that’s important as well.

Suddenly it was a wrap and we were up and moving for a group photo with Mark and Jemaine. As we returned to our seats I couldn’t help but think about the number of messages that this movie carries. The first time I saw the movie I focused on the relationship between Sophie and The BFG. During our second viewing at the red carpet premiere I was able to take a closer look at the relationship between the two but also the focus on hope. Mark and Jemaine just made that much more real. I can’t wait to see the film for a third time to see what I take away next.


If one thing is certain, the casting was perfect and I now that I’ve had the opportunity to sit in a room with Mark and Jemaine I think I will always have a great appreciation for the film and the roles that they play. They were both beyond words and I can’t wait to see what their future brings.

The press junket offered us the opportunity to speak with Penelope Wilton (“The Queen”) and Rebecca Hall (“Mary”) but I think we will hold off on sharing the details until later this week. Until then, keep an eye on the blog for everything THE BFG and by following us on social media under hashtag #TheBFGEvent.


You don’t want to miss out on a moment of the fun so stay tuned.

Plus, THE BFG opens in theaters THIS FRIDAY, July 1, 2016!


Learn more about The BFG on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and TWITTER.

*I was invited by Disney to attend #TheBFGEvent to share my experience with my readers. All opinions are my own.

Photo credit: Coralie Seright –

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Terry Poage June 28, 2016 - 2:30 pm
This looks like such a great movie. Thanks for sharing.
Margot Core June 28, 2016 - 2:39 pm
I adore Mark Rylance. He is one of the best actors in the world. Did you see 'Wolf Hall'?
Linda Manns Linneman June 28, 2016 - 2:48 pm
This sounds like a wonderful experience. These people sound like down to earth people that really enjoy their work. I can't wait to see this movie. Thank you so much for sharing
judethomas21 June 29, 2016 - 5:39 am
I have never read the book but had heard of it when I was a kid. I love Jemaine Clement as he is a fellow Kiwi and so funny. His comedy duo Flight of the Conchords is hilarious.
Lauryn R June 30, 2016 - 3:31 pm
What an awesome interview, what a great experience that must have been! I can't wait to see this movie! :)

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