Roald Dahls Daughter Lucy Reveals The BFG Origins and Insight Into His Writing Process

The BFG movie

British novelist, short story writer, poet and screenwriter Roald Dahl gave us some of the most beloved stories like JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, MATILDA, FANTASTIC MR FOX and THE BFG which was recently adapted by Steven Spielberg into a movie THE BFG, now available on Blu-ray and DVD. His daughter Lucy gives insight into the imaginative mind of Dahl, his bedtime stories to Lucy and her siblings including how the BFG came to be.

Lucy DahlLucy Dahl is the youngest of five Dahl children. At night, their father would tell them fantasy-filled stories.

“He was amazing at bedtime stories,” says Dahl’s daughter. “We used to get a story every night.  He really loved to tell stories.”

Lucy’s favorite was the big friendly giant (The BFG) who lived in her apple orchard in their garden. Roald Dahl created a short story out of the friendly giant tale for his 1975 book of shorts.  In 1983, he expanded the story and published the children’s book THE BFG, dedicating it to his late daughter Olivia who died of measles at the age of 7.  In the story, an orphan named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant, a kind-hearted soul who is bullied for not eating children.

However, sharing the BFG didn’t sit well with a young Lucy when the book was published.  

“When the BFG became a book, and he lived in giant land, I was pissed off that the world was suddenly getting my BFG. It was like having to share something that’s all yours with the rest of the world, and yet it’s not quite right. So that annoyed me a little bit and I told dad I was annoyed by it. I got over it.”  

 The BFG 1

Lucy can now say she’s glad her father wrote the book, and it's a dream come true that Steven Spielberg adapted it to the big screen with the late screenwriter Melissa Mathison (E.T.) writing a beautifully-written adaptation.  Lucy says adapting her father's books are not an easy feat, so she was very happy with Mathison's version. She died shortly after shooting THE BFG.

Steven Spielberg Talks Walt Disney’s Influence on THE BFG and Strong Female Protagonists

Director Steven Spielberg invited Lucy to visit the Canadian set. “It was the most amazing day of my life,” she says of her visit to the massive sets in a large warehouse. Spielberg treated her “like a queen” that day and she sat with the set designers, costume designers and the actors for lunch. “It takes a village” to make a film, and Lucy recognized all the hard work and love that went into bringing the story to life.

“Everybody put the love into this film that it deserved on every level even on the tiniest little details.”  

The one day on set brought back many childhood memories of her father, saying she relived her childhood all over again on that day.  

“That day I felt like Charlie Buckett spending the day in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Every corner that we turned was something that just brought tears to my eyes, and it was incredible. It was so much heart in this film that you can just feel it.”

Afterwards she wrote to Spielberg and producer Frank Marshall thanking them for the overwhelming and emotional experience on the set. She jokes she needed a nap following the visit because it was so emotionally draining.

To show how much love went into making the film, Dahl tells CineMovie that Spielberg built wheelchair ramps so his wheelchair-bound father could visit the set, and “be part of the magic.”

When she watched Spielberg’s THE BFG for the first time, she also felt the magic and it met every expectation of the story as she had imagined as a child.

“I cried, and I cried, and I cried, and I cried because it was so beautiful and I felt like I had been lucky enough to spend two hours with my dad again which I hadn’t done since he passed away in 1990.”

Actor Mark Rylance who plays the friendly giant reminded her of her dad for the two hours of the movie.

The BFG Steven Spielberg

Lucy Dahl’s remembers her father with fondness especially his dedication to writing seven days a week. She gives us insight into Roald Dahl’s writing process.  

“He would work from 10 until noon, every single day, 7 days a week. Then he would have lunch and he would have a little nap and he would have a little bet on the horse races that were on television. Then he would go back to his work hut. He worked in a little hut at the end of the garden that he called his ‘little nest.’ And he would go back there from 3 until 5pm. He didn’t work any more or he didn’t work any less. He worked every single day for those hours and he used to say ‘even if you’ve got nothing to write, you have to put your bottom down.”

Dahl reveals it usually took her father roughly a year to finish writing a book.  He didn’t have deadlines when writing his novels, but he was under the gun when tasked with adapting Ian Fleming books into films such as the James Bond movie YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

THE BFG arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download November 29, and Lucy Dahl wants to share part of her family with the world.

“I hope everybody takes time to see the DVD because it’s something they’ll want to see again and again because it really touches your heart.”

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