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The BFG - Interview With Jonathan Holmes who plays ChildChewer

Photo credit Kristine Cofsky
Jonathan Holmes has graced our screens in many hit television shows and exciting movies, now this talented British actor will be playing Childchewer, one of Roald Dahl’s iconic giants in the Spielberg directed Disney feature, The BFG, alongside Mark Rylance, Jemaine Clement and Bill Hader.

In Disney’s The BFG, a girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kind hearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.

Jonathan has enjoyed a long career in front of the camera with career highlights including playing opposite Martin Freeman and Toby Jones in Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching, starring as Lloyd in the first season of DirectTV’s Rogue alongside Thandie Newton, playing Mr Deley in the hit ABC movie The Descendants, as well as numerous guest starring roles in shows like Almost Human.

I was lucky enough to ask Jonathan a few questions on the movie and working with Steven Spielberg:

RW - Congratulations on The BFG, it looks like a wonderful movie and classic Spielberg. Of course in the movie you play ‘Childchewer.’ Roald Dahl fans will now who this is but can you describe the character you play?

JH - The Childchewer is one of nine very 'unfriendly' Giants who collectively are the bad guys of the piece.

RW - Playing a giant in a movie sounds like so much fun. Was it an easy process, which I can imagine there was a lot of green screen or did it take some getting used to?

JH - It was so much fun! We worked for a number of weeks developing the physicality and distinguishing characteristics of the Giants and Childchewer emerged as something of a vein adolescent. There was indeed a lot of green screen and it was shot as 'performance capture', so we were all wearing those funny looking dotted suits as well as head cameras that captured every nuance of our facial movements. The technology was extraordinary!

RW - It must have been a special moment when you found out you were working on a Steven Spielberg movie. What were the auditions like and describe the moment you discovered you got the part?

JH - Oddly I only had one audition. And it was on tape. The scenes were a mixture of the Giant's dialogue as well as some of the BFG's. Then I was asked to improvise a scene as my Giant. We didn't know which Giant we'd be playing until we arrived on set. I decided to 'go big or go home' and it clearly paid off! As with most of these situations, there wasn't a single moment when I knew I had the job. I was told I was shortlisted, then things went quiet. Even when I was finally offered the role, I've learned not to count my chickens - so I was cautiously thrilled. But thrilled!

RW - As a Spielberg website I have to ask this question. Working with Mr Spielberg and being directed by him must be an actor’s dream come true. What was it like working with such a famous director? Was it an intense experience or did he encourage the best performance out his cast?

JH - He could not have been more lovely or more generous. He was always open to our ideas and created a wonderful atmosphere that was geared to simply making the best movie we could. He was always the most enthusiastic guy on the lot and as iconic as he is, he still just wants to tell the best story he possibly can. Very inspiring.

RW - Moving away from The BFG for just a second. As a Stargate SG-1 fan I remember your character in the episode, ‘Endgame.’ What was it like working on such an iconic sci-fi TV series and of course a second time in Stargate Atlantis?

JH - Ha! That was a while ago! Stargate was great fun and another really lovely set. It's such a pleasure to work with guys who are so good at what they do. It makes our job as actors so much easier.

RW - And finally what’s next for Jonathan Holmes?

JH - I'm working on a couple of projects which sadly - I can't tell you too much about! But stay tuned.

Rob Wainfur

The BFG will hit cinemas in the UK on July 22nd and in the US on July 1st.

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