The Queen Elizabeth In 'The BFG' Is A Brand New Version Of The Monarch
The BFG might be about Big Friendly Giants and the harvesting of dreams, but did you know it actually takes place in the real world? Sure, Steven Spielberg's newest film, adapted from the beloved children's novel by Roald Dahl, sounds pretty fantastical, but the movie does have one very clear tie to the real world, and that's the Queen. In The BFG (spoiler alert), Sophie, the young protagonist, convinces the BFG to expose the existence of giants to the Queen of England in an effort to stop the mean giants who eat children. In a delightful sequence, Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant meet with the perfectly human-sized Queen. And, though the Queen is never named — she is credited simply as "The Queen" — it's clear that the Queen in The BFG is Queen Elizabeth II.
Now, it's possible that the Queen in The BFG is only meant to resemble Queen Elizabeth II, but it's worth noting that the movie takes place in the '80s, when Queen Elizabeth II was already in power, and that the Queen played a role in the original book, which Dahl published in 1982. Furthermore, The BFG contains a few clues as to the Queen's identity. When Sophie and the BFG meet with the Queen, she has corgis and calls up her friends "Ronnie and Nancy" (aka Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, who were in the White House during a majority of the '80s). So it's a pretty safe to assume that the Queen in the movie is, in fact, the Queen.
For actor Penelope Wilton, known for playing Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey, there was never any question of who she was really playing — a slightly goofy version of the British monarch. "It's putting the Queen in situations you don't always imagine she'd be in," Wilton said at a press conference during the Cannes Film Festival, as reported by USA Today . For Wilton, the chance to portray the Queen in a more humorous way was too good to pass up. "We also know she has a wonderful sense of humor. We like to see her do things that probably we shouldn't," Wilton said.
Queen Elizabeth II has been played on screen many times, and most portrayals land in one of two categories: severe drama or outrageous comedy. Perhaps the most definitive interpretation came in 2007, when Helen Mirren won an Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. Wilton is excited to see how her version will add to the repertoire of Queen Elizabeths. "I hope I have given the Queen a good rendition. She's been played a lot. This is my version of the queen. We'll have to see how it all comes down," she added.
I think that if the Queen is willing to film a bit with Daniel Craig for the Olympics, she's probably OK with being a funny character in a Spielberg movie.