A Gloriumptious Breakfast Chat With Lucy Dahl, The Daughter of Roald Dahl #TheBFG
We had a gloriumptious breakfast chat with Lucy Dahl, The Daughter of Roald Dahl! A couple of weeks ago, when I was in Los Angeles for the Moana red carpet, we also had a ton of other amazing events going on around Disney movies. Yesterday, Disney’s The BFG was released on HD and Blu-ray. ( Get your copy at The Disney Store today ????) In honor of the in-home release, we had the whoopsy-splunkers opportunity to sit down with Lucy Dahl. Lucy Dahl is the youngest daughter of Roald Dahl, the man who wrote The BFG! What an amazing breakfast date this was 😀 Listening to her talk about her father and her childhood of being raised by a father with such an amazing imagination and love for all things magical felt like stepping back into my childhood and listening to my grandfathers amazing stories!
This was such a fun breakfast and interview. I have not done one with the child of someone who created a story before. It was exciting to hear how much this story meant to her and her sister <3
Is there in a scene in the film that was a favorite section of the book for you?
Lucy Dahl: Yes. Can I preface something by telling you a little bit about the BFG and me?
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, and so 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.
This whole kind of, you know, like Disneyland and you could actually live there for a long time, I think. You’d get your food, you know, it’s a destination resort sort of thing, and that’s sort of what our house and our garden and our orchard beyond and then fields and the woods beyond that, that’s what our rambling old house in the countryside of Bingham was like. It wasn’t fancy at all. We did not have a lot of money.
My father worked very, very hard to get us through school. My mum was always working in America, but back to focus on the BFG, is he 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 and dad would tell us a story about some idea he was brewing. Sometimes it was about the BFG, sometimes it was about some other thing that he was thinking about.
…continued: Though we didn’t know at the time. We just thought it was a story and then even in the middle of winter, even if it was snowing outside or blizzard-ing, or whatever, we would always have to leave our little old bedroom window open a crack and our bedroom was tiny. Ophelia’s the name of my sister. She’s fifteen months older than me and our bedroom was really no, smaller than this book shelf, the width of this bookshelf and about this big. Not even this big. Anyway, so 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, it wasn’t long, and this stick would come.
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 an 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, and Dad said; “you mustn’t, the minute you stop believing in magic, it will never happen”. One night the bamboo stick was coming back through the window and we heard this enormous crash, bang and we were told never to go to window to look, but we did and there was my poor old dad at the bottom of the ladder saying I’m fine, I’m fine.
How old were you?
Lucy Dahl: How old am I, or was I? Oh, it was from when I can remember, so four, three, four. All the way through my childhood. We never moved houses. We always stayed in the same old farmhouse.
What was your favorite meal? Is there something that you remember him giving you?
Lucy Dahl: Truffle season has just started. White truffle season has just started. Talking about foodies. There are many, many, many things. So to answer your question precisely, meal or food or?
Just something he created that was unusual.
Lucy Dahl: Well, he spent a lot of time making sure, and I think it was part of his work as well. You know, when you’re not actually working you’re thinking about your work and so he spent a lot of time, as an actor would, in character; but he was sort of in fantasy land. 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. And we’d go get the milk and sometimes there were a little bowl or teeny 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. 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’.
And what Dad would do is, once a week he would go to London and go to the Harrod’s food halls because we didn’t have specialty shops then, where you can get this stuff now. He would go and get all these wonderful things and he would make them into….we would all use our imagination with them. With the quail eggs, the way that he would cook them was take some bread and cut it, 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.
….continued: Also things like red cabbage was. Everything, everything came from somewhere. Everything that most children don’t like to eat came from somewhere fabulous, like red cabbage was delivered the day before by a footman from Buckingham Palace, sent by the Queen and so you’d eat it. You don’t say I’m not going to eat that cabbage if the Queen has personally sent it and he’s I can’t believe it. “You missed, did you see the footmen” and we’re like, “no”. He said, “well, then you need to open your eyes because you walked right past him and you were coming up the lane, coming home from school”. It was, that was sort of thing all of the time.
We would be coming home for the weekends. This is when we were older. He would do things like buy a whole Parma ham. I think now it’s prosciutto. I don’t really quite know what the difference is, but we would always have those hanging in the cellar. And kind of like Fantastic Mr. Fox-esque, cider we made from the apples. We had all kinds of delicious things and as a result, I eat everything. Everything. There’s nothing I don’t eat. Nothing.
What parts of the book are not in the film that you would have liked to see included?
Lucy Dahl: Well, it’s kind of the other way around. 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. Just like, “no, no, that’s not the way that goes”. But 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.
It’s kind of like a husband, you know. He’s mine. He’s in my house and you don’t get him. So I sort of never really embraced the book that much because I was, it was in the early Eighties? Eighty-two, I think. Eighty-two, so I was born in sixty-five, so seventeen.
I remember thinking “BFG, phh”, just sort of not very interested, but then when the film was made and I was invited to the set. I couldn’t wait to go. I was over the teenage issue at that point and it was really incredible. 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 that was over there and on the set 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. It was, I felt really like my father was walking around with me around the set as delighted as I was. The whole journey has been huge. The emotion. It really has.
Are the giant scenes in the book sadder than in the movie?
Lucy Dahl: I think they had to be. They had to make it so kids don’t go screaming out of the theater. I remember when I was a child and I saw The Wizard of Oz, I remember running out of the theater in absolute floods of fearful tears when I saw the Wicked Witch of the West. So I think you have to be careful there. And then you asked me a question right from the beginning and what was it?
What part of the book were you excited to see come alive in the film?
Lucy Dahl: Oh that’s Dream Land. When Sophie goes up 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.
Was it like you imagined it would be?
Lucy 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, for example, if I may borrow this. 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 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. And he would, you know, build. As the family grew, we built on the house. Well, I didn’t because I’m the youngest, but they did. So Wally was an extraordinary countryman from Buckinghamshire and he had the big ears. The accent that BFG has in the film was taken from Wally’s accent from video clips that we have of Wally.
About The BFG:
The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) on the other hand, are twice as big and at least twice as scary and have been known to eat humans, while the BFG prefers Snozzcumber and Frobscottle. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a giant before, has many questions. The BFG brings Sophie to Dream Country where he collects dreams and sends them to children, teaching her all about the magic and mystery of dreams.
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THE BFG is on Digital HD and Blu Ray NOW!