While its plans for a live-action adaptation charge full speed ahead, Disney announced Artemis Fowl casting that includes a gender swap not even the most loyalist fan could complain about. Details about the upcoming film, which were shared on Dec. 20, reveal that Josh Gad will play Mulch Diggums, the kleptomaniac dwarf who occasionally works for the fairies; Lara McDonnell as Captain Holly Short, an elf officer in the Reconnaissance division of the Lower Elements Police force (aka LEPRecon); Nonso Anozie as Artemis' gigantic and well-trained bodyguard, Butler, and, most importantly, Dame Judi Dench as Commander Root, the hardened leader of LEPRecon.
The news of Dench's casting, which was previously announced by Variety back in Sept. 2017, is a deviation for the fantasy novel due to the fact that, in the books, Commander Julius Root's character is male. Though no details surrounding the gender swap have been revealed, the switch-up should really come be embraced by fans of the 2000s novel. It's a particularly refreshing factor in a world where roles for women are still not as complex and multilayered as roles for men, and women are still having to fight to even be paid the same as their male counterparts.
The introduction of Dench to the character of Root feels like a progressive step in the right direction of erasing some those prejudices that have stifled women in the past. And it's particularly impressive because the Oscar Award-winning film veteran was once voted one of the greatest British actors of all time, so one can hardly say she isn't qualified to step into the shoes of a fairy leader.
The film's casting director Lucy Bevan spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the shift in climate for female-led stories and reveals that the film role of Commander Root was originally intended for a man. She explained,
"If you suggest a woman for a leading role that is written as a man, I think that is met with possibility now. The film [Artemis Fowl] that I'm casting at the moment, the leading role was a guy, and I suggested a woman, and now [Judi Dench is] playing it — the role was written for a guy."
This switch is perfect, however. After all, Root and Holly had a special bond in the books, and the fact that they will both be facing the sexism of being one of the few women on the force will only make their connection even stronger in the movie.
The rest of the cast isn't too bad either. Our 12-year-old criminal child prodigy Artemis Fowl will be reportedly be played by Ferdia Shaw, who is said to be making his on-screen debut in the film. According to a press release for the film, there was an extensive search to fill the part and Bevan interviewed over 1200 candidates for the role.
The film, which is reported to hit theaters on Aug. 9, 2019, is based on the popular fantasy book series by Eoin Colfer. As a tween-aged criminal mastermind trying to live up to the legacy of his father, who disappeared, Artemis Fowl gets the idea to replenish his family's riches by stealing gold from the fairies that he believes exists. According to JustJared, however, the plot of the movie is as follows:
"Descended from a long line of criminal masterminds, 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl finds himself in a battle of strength and cunning against a powerful, hidden race of fairies who may be behind his father’s disappearance."
So it remains to be seen what else will change for the big screen. The live-action film has been a long time coming, as fans have been waiting since Miramax bought rights to the film back in 2001. After 12 years and a myriad of of change-ups, Disney made the announcement that a film was underway in 2013, according to Entertainment Weekly. Now, it's 2017 ,and it seems that things are finally underway. Let the con begin.