First Look: Inside the Making of Disney's The BFG

Steven Spielberg, Bill Hader and more reveal how the movie was made

By Zach Johnson Nov 28, 2016 4:00 PMTags

Adapting Roald Dahl's The BFG for the big screen was no easy feat.

But if there's anyone who can conjure some movie magic, it's Steven Spielberg. The film's director and producer worked overtime to enchant audiences—even those who hadn't read Dahl's beloved literary tale. And with The BFG coming to Blu-ray, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere Nov. 29, E! News is exclusively premiering fans' first look at two new bonus features.

Walt Disney Studios

Spielberg had dreamed of directing the family-friendly adventure since the '90s, but it took decades for technology to catch up. Mark Rylance stars as the BFG, a 24-foot giant who befriends an orphan named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and introduces her to his world. Jemaine Clement plays the Fleshlumpeater, a 54-foot giant and de facto leader of the man-eating giants. Among his lackeys: the Butcherboy (Michael David Adamthwaite), the Bonecruncher (Daniel Bacon), the Gizzardgulper (Chris Gibbs), the Manhugger (Adam Godley), the Bloodbottler (Bill Hader), the Childchewer (Jonathan Holmes), the Meatdripper (Paul Moniz de Sa) and others.

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None of the actors who played giants wore costumes—at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, the stars wore motion capture body suits that informed their computer-generated counterparts. "We have these points all over our bodies which correspond to points on the animated characters' bodies, so it's like we're in control of this very detailed puppet," Clement explains. "We're like human meat mountains, and we have to learn how to walk like them."

Hader was fascinated by the process. "We would do two hours of different runs," he recalls. "How would he sit? How would he wake up? You wanted to see, 'How does your guy do that?'"

With no reference point—giants aren't real, after all—the actors worked with movement coach Terry Notary. "I'll use bungee cords and weights," Notary says, "and I'll have ankle weights and wrist weights and different things that they need to feel grounded and heavy." Spielberg would often watch the stars in rehearsals, "and he would get sort of a sense of who these guys were."

So, what did the man in charge think when all was said and done? "It was kind of like a Shakespearean company of clowns," he laughs. "I had the best time working with all of them."

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The BFG needed larger than life sets for its larger than life characters, and that's where Dejan Momcilovic, motion capture supervisor, brought it all together. "There's the real world, which is Sophie's world, which is 1:1 scale to us. Then there's BFG's scale, which is just about over four times bigger than the real world. So, everything around has to be the four times the size. If there is a table, it'll be like eight meters wide. It's just huge," Momcilovic says. "Then you go into the scale of the other giants who are like twice the size of BFG, so like eight times bigger."

It's not often that Guy Williams, visual effects supervisor, sees the same set in different scales. "We built these beautiful sets for the BFG's cottage, and then we built a version of that that was sort of half as big and it was for the bigger giants that come through and rampage the place," Williams reveals. "And it forces them all down. They can't safely stand up in these sets."

Sound complicated? As Spielberg admits, "It's very hard to describe how we pulled this off."

Watch more special features—including a tribute to late screenwriter Melissa Mathison—when Disney's The BFG comes to Blu-ray, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere Nov. 29.