FSM Media

by Dianna Ranere

Brunch with Lucy Dahl and The BFG #BFGBluRay #TheBFG

Brunch with Lucy Dahl and The BFG #BFGBluRay #TheBFG

Brunch with Lucy Dahl and The BFG #BFGBluRay

Lucy Dahl is the youngest daughter of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal. She is a writer, a screenwriter and a producer. She wrote the teen comedy Wild Child, starring Emma Roberts, Aiden Quinn, Alex Pettifer and Natasha Richardson. She is currently writing and creating a new comedy for TV, as well as executive producing a TV adaptation of one of her father’s stories.

Lucy divides her time between East and West coasts, and has two children, Phoebe and Chloe, and two dogs, Thelma and Lola.

 

I had the pleasure of spending brunch with Mrs. Dahl, as you can see above a small sampling of what that was like. We asked her all about her father Roald, and what it ws like to grow up with the man who created The BFG and many other beloved works.  
 

Brunch with Lucy Dahl and The BFG #BFGBluRay 1

Growing up with Roald Dahl as a Dad…….

So it was really amazing growing up with Roald Dahl as my dad because everything was a fairy tale, really, because we were sort of his lab rats, so to speak. He he would test his ideas and his characters and people on us, although we didn’t know it at the time. We just thought that we were getting great stories and he created this whole sort of kingdom of where we lived.

The BFG is real to me. He lived under our apple orchards which was beyond our garden, and every single night, he would blow dreams into my sister and my bedroom.   We just thought it was a story and then even in the middle of winter, even if it was snowing outside or blizzarding, or whatever, we would always have to leave out little old bedroom window open a crack and our bedroom was tiny. After he told us a story, he would say goodnight, and we would lay there and we would wait for the BFG to come and blow dreams into our room and sure enough this bamboo stick would come, and it would always go to Ophelia first which annoyed me, I have to admit and then it would go this way and I would get my dreams and then it would retract and then that was just it for years and years and years while we were young growing up and then when we got to age where we thought that maybe, when our friends started to say there’s no such thing as the BFG, as they do, we questioned. Dad said, “you mustn’t, the minute you stop believing in magic, it will never happen.

It also must have worried him tremendously because the next morning when we woke up on his precious lawn in huge brown letters said THE BFG that he had done with weed killer.  He said to us, you’ve made the BFG cross that you’re not believing in him and he obviously wanted to tell you that he’s here.

 

What were your favorite treats that your Father made for you?

He spent a lot of time as an actor would in character, but he was sort of in fantasy land, I suppose, or in his imagination, because we would wake up in the morning and open the door because it was in the days when the milkmen would deliver the milk early in the morning. We’d go get the milk and sometimes there was a bowl of teenny, weenie little eggs. Now I know they’re quail eggs, but he said that the MinPins which is another story that he wrote, little people that lived in our woods beyond the orchard, that the MinPins had delivered eggs to us overnight and sometimes there were big eggs, duck eggs. Now I know they’re duck eggs, but they were BFG eggs.

 Dad would once a week go to London and go to the Harrod’s food halls because we didn’t have specialty shops then, and he would go and get all these wonderful things and we would all use our imagination with them, so with the quail eggs, the way that he would cook them was take some bread and cut it, now, now it’s sort of in cookbooks everywhere, but cut a hole in it and  fry it and break the little quail egg into it. It was delicious.

How is The BFG story different from the book and movie?

 There was no Giant Land in BFG’s story, so when it became a book and the BFG didn’t live under our orchard, he lived in Giant land, I didn’t like that. I was actually a little offended when he put our childhood story into a book because he was my BFG and Ophelia’s BFG and nobody else’s, and you don’t really want to share.

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Director Steven Spielberg and Ruby Barnhill on the set of Disney’s THE BFG, based on the best-sellling book by Roald Dahl.

I sort of never really embraced the book that much but then when the film was made and I was invited to the set, I couldn’t wait to go. It was really incredible and I loved being on the set. Steven Spielberg treated me, honestly, like a queen which I didn’t expect. I thought he’d just be like, hey, nice to meet you and get on with his work. He literally took me with him all day everywhere he went and showed me everything and it was really the most incredible experience ever, but the thing that I didn’t like was Giant Land, because it wasn’t true, but everything else was so true to how it was in my imagination and in my mind that it was just incredible.  I felt really like my father was walking around with me around the set as delighted as I was.

 

What part of the story/book were you excited to see come alive in the film?

Dream Land. When Sophie goes into Dream Land, just that, that three or four seconds is just extraordinary, that’s my favorite. I could watch that again and again and again and again and again.

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Disney’s THE BFG is the imaginative story of a young girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and the Big Friendly Giant (Oscar (TM) winner Mark Rylance) who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is based on the beloved book by Roald Dahl.

It was exactly how I had imagined it and I think that’s probably why I love it so much. But also, the BFG. Steven took a great deal of trouble in getting the BFG right, so, for example (she is looking at the DVD) these shoes are a copy of a pair of my father’s sandals that he used to wear every summer. His, the BFG’s clothes are copies of my father’s clothes from his cupboard that we still have.

My father based him a little bit on himself and a little bit on our great family friend called Wally Saunders, who worked for my grandmother and he was a country man and he worked in our garden helping dad and he would help dad drive us to and from school. Wally was an extraordinary countryman from Buckinghamshire and he had the big ears and the accent that BFG has in the film, and that was taken from Wally’s accent from video clips that we have of, of Wally.

 

Did your dad ever use stories to get you to behave?

He never wanted us to behave. He would actually help us plot and plan naughty things to do because he said that well-behaved children were well-behaved the trick was to never get caught, so that’s actually one thing about my father that I haven’t used in my own mothering because it’s fine when you’re four, five, six, seven, eight and then you get to be a teenager and you have that programming to just don’t get caught it’s not so good.

He didn’t ever instill fear or danger in us for anything. He wanted us to be brave and courageous. I loved to ride horses and I got a horse and I would leave at nine o’clock in the morning with a packed lunch and come back at five or six o’clock in the evening totally by myself just around the countryside of England and you can imagine us sending our nine year old children off to do that now.

Even now, when I go home, and I look how narrow those country roads are. They’re tiny. And I just think, my gosh, how could he let us, me, do that by myself?

 

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What did your Mom (American Actress Patricia Neal) think of his way of doing things?

 She was an actress. She thought a lot about herself. She was an extraordinary woman, but our needs did not come before hers and she was gone a lot. She really was an extraordinary woman. She was over here a lot working when we were growing up, so dad pretty much raised us and when mum would come home, it was very difficult for her because she was here.

She would come back with Beverly Hills Hotel gowns and when you’re over in Hollywood, as she would call it, and everyone’s giving her everything she wants and treating her like she’s something other than a mother and a regular, normal woman, she would come home she was just Mum and she had a little trouble with that and because dad was always around.

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Roald Dahl with his wife Patricia Neal in 1954 = Photo Credit: www.stylist.co.uk

We would go to Dad and say, Dad, um, can I go to my friend’s house tonight? And she would say, ask me. I’m your mother, but we just weren’t used to her being around, so that was definitely a real thing in our house when Mum came back. So I think in order for her own self-defense because she knew she was going to go again, she kept her guard up, you know. She used to go to the hairdresser everyday down in the village. She wasn’t unkind, by any means, but she had also had three strokes.

 So she was not like the other mothers. She couldn’t see out of the corner of one eye. She walked with a limp. She embarrassed us a little bit as children, and she was American and loud and in America, she was this huge superstar and everybody treated her like they would Julia Roberts now and then she would come to this little bumbling village in England where we believed in foxes and giants and things and she, she wanted to go back to, you know, where everybody treated her like a queen.

She has actually written about it. She wrote an autobiography and she says, that her strokes stole from her, her motherhood, because she couldn’t remember names. She couldn’t remember our names and so, but she could remember her lines and she was comfortable doing her work, so I think as a woman, and as a mother now, I have been there. I think she really, really had a very difficult time.

She was an extraordinary woman and then my parents got divorced and when I became older she and I were exceedingly close and we were all very, very close with mother. We realized what an incredible woman she was and how much she had gone through. My parents eldest daughter died at seven of measles. My brother was brain damaged when he was three months old from an accident in his stroller and my mother then had three strokes. She was pregnant with me when she had her strokes and when my brother was brain damaged, he had water on the brain, hydrocephalus and there was no cure for it. There was nothing. The doctor said, there’s nothing we can do and this is how extraordinary my father was. My father said, he used to believe that Newton’s Law or whatever it’s called, he believed that if there’s a problem, there’s a solution.  He didn’t accept the fact that my brother was going to die and so he got together with three other neurosurgeons and they invented the shunt and my brother had the first shunt put in his brain.

 

Is there a story or something that your father told you or gave to that you’ve passed onto your children?

Pretty much everything, I have to say. I passed everything on.

 You know why? Because this book is, was already out. At the time my children were born.  I used to do things the same, but different. The same sort of spirit. I used to plan a trip. When they were young, we lived in Massachusetts and I would plan a trip to Disney World and not tell them and I’d get them ready for school in the morning and lunches and everything and we would just drive to the airport.

 

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What is your favorite literary work of your father’s?

Matilda. I like Matilda because it it does envelop the energy that we had. Dad used to write letters to the teachers if he thought they were wrong about stuff. One very bad one was when he wrote to the French teacher who was French and told her that she was teaching us to pronounce something wrong. We didn’t think there was anything wrong with that because we just always knew that he wrote letters.

We would learn our times tables in song. Anything that we couldn’t memorize, he would put to song which is actually kind of brilliant and I did that, too, because if you think about it, you listen to a pop song or any kind of song three times and you know it and yet, you can try and learn how to spell something and sit and stare at it forever and you can’t figure it out, so he used to put things to song that we couldn’t remember or learn.

Do you have a favorite adaptation of any of your father’s other works?

The BFG” comes to Digital HD, Blu-ray™ and Disney Movies Anywhere Dec. 6 #TheBFG

 

Well, I do love BFG. I really do love BFG. I love it. I love it. I think Mark Rylance was amazing. I think the team was amazing. I love it. I don’t think it’s any secret that it didn’t kill at the box office and we’ve talked about that and honestly, as a family, it doesn’t matter to us. We would so much rather have a beautiful film than a box office hit and my feeling about that, or us as a family because we have talked about it, is that it’s perfect. The BFG is slow enough to speak to your heart. I mean, the heart speaks to the heart.

 

Own Disney’s The BFG on Blu-ray, Digital HD & Disney Movies Anywhere!

For further information on “The BFG” and the wonderful world of Roald Dahl please visit:

Roald Dahl .com  | The BFG on Facebook | The BFG on Twitter  |Roald Dahl on Twitter

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Disclosure: I was provided with an all-expense trip to LA by Walt Disney Studios to attend the Red Carpet Premiere of MOANA, as well as visit ABC televisions sets and attend the BFG brunch. All opinions are 100% my own.