While at the Moana Press Junket in Los Angeles, which included the Red Carpet Premiere of the movie, we had the fun opportunity to interview Lucy Dahl, daughter of The BFG author, Roald Dahl. This was in anticipation of the release of The BFG on Blu-Ray DVD November 29. It was amazing hearing directly from her, what it was like having Roald Dahl as a father.
When I found out I would have the chance to meet & hear from Lucy Dahl, daughter of author Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal, I was so excited. I have been a Roald Dahl fan since I was a child (James & the Giant Peach is my favorite). Now that I have read all of Dahl’s books with my children, I have a new set of memories of these exciting tales. So I was very honored to have the opportunity to meet with her.
It was a fairy tale setting, as we were hosted at a beautiful brunch in Burbank, California where the table was set with jars full of dreams – right out of The BFG. With an intimate table & room, it was the perfect setting to hear Dahl tell us what it was like growing up with Roald Dahl as a father.
Lucy Dahl: Growing up with Roald Dahl as a Father
It was really amazing growing up with Roald Dahl as my dad because everything was a fairy tale. We were sort of his lab rats, so to speak. He would test his ideas, 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.
Her Version of The BFG
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. Even in the middle of winter, even if it was snowing outside, we would always have to leave our little old bedroom window open a crack. After he told us a story, he would say goodnight, and we would lay there and wait for the BFG to come and blow dreams into our room. Sure enough, within five minutes this bamboo stick would come through the window.
That would go on for years and years while we were young growing up. Then when we got to age when our friends started to say there’s no such thing as the BFG, we questioned Dad. And Dad said, ‘you mustn’t…the minute you stop believing in magic, it will never happen.’ It must have worried him tremendously because the next morning when we woke up, BFG in big letters was written across the whole garden.
He was an avid gardener, and the grass had huge brown BFG letters across the whole garden that he had done with weed killer. And he said to us, ‘you’ve made the BFG cross that you’re not believing in him and he obviously wanted to tell you that he’s here.’
Then we realized that it wasn’t the BFG sticking a dream through our window one night when I think dad had a bit too much to drink and he fell off his ladder. One night the bamboo stick was coming back through the window and we heard this enormous crash, 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.
Did your dad ever use stories to get you to behave?
He never wanted us to behave. He would actually help us plot and plan naughty things to do because he said that well behaved children were boring. The trick was to never get caught, so that’s actually one thing about my father that I haven’t used in my own mothering because it’s fine when you’re four, five, six, seven, eight and then you get to be a teenager and you have that programming to just don’t get caught it’s not so good.
He would do our homework for us and I will do that for my children. If it didn’t matter. You know, stuff that they give you that just doesn’t matter. It’s just a waste of time and an adult can do it in five minutes and a child, it would steal like an hour and half of their evening where we could be running in the woods or doing something and he would say, ‘Give it to me. I’ll do it.’
Lucy Dahl & The BFG Movie
What parts of the book are not in the film that you would have liked to see included?
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. ‘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 nobody else’s and you don’t really want to share.
On Visiting the Set with Stephen Spielberg
So I sort of never really embraced the book that much because I was seventeen when it came out. But then when the film was made and I was invited to the set, I couldn’t wait to go. It was really incredible and 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. Everything was so true to how it was in my imagination and in my mind that it was just incredible. I felt like my father was walking around with me on the set as delighted as I was.
Was it like you imagined it would be?
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, the shoes the BFG wears in the movie are a copy of a pair of my father’s sandals that he used to wear every summer. The BFG’s clothes are copies of my father’s clothes from his cupboard that we still have.
My father had based him a little bit on himself and a little bit on our great family friend, Wally Saunders, who worked for my grandmother. He was a country man and he worked, in our garden helping dad and he would help dad drive us to and from school. He had the big ears and the accent that BFG has in the film was taken from Wally’s accent from video clips that we have of Wally.
What part of the book were you excited to see come alive in the film?
Dream Land. When Sophie goes up into Dream Land, 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.
Do you have a favorite adaptation of any of your father’s other works?
Well, I do love BFG. I really do love BFG. I love it. I think Mark Rylance was amazing. I think the team was amazing. I don’t think it’s any secret that it didn’t kill at the box office and we’ve talked about that. Honestly, as a family, it doesn’t matter to us. We would so much rather have a beautiful film than a box office hit and my feeling about that is that it’s perfect.
Children are so used to bang, whiz, colors. Even my little nephew who’s nine, my sister won’t let him watch the new Scooby Doos because they over stimulate him and he won’t go to sleep. But he watches the old Scooby Doos that we all grew up with and it doesn’t have the same effect on him, which is interesting. So BFG is slow enough to speak to your heart.
With this coming out over Christmas where it’s more of a quiet time, I’m really hoping that children will slow down a little bit and realize that it’s about love because it’s really a love story. They’re two lonely hearts that find one another.
The importance of this story is that how one heart will find another heart, whatever the world, wherever they live. If they have the same heart, and BFG and Sophie have the same heart and that’s how they found each other, and they danced to a tune that no one else could hear.
She summarizes it nicely, doesn’t she?
It was such a delight to hear from Lucy Dahl. The time flew by as we listened to her stories. I was so happy to have a moment to catch her to tell her how many amazing memories I have of my childhood and my children’s because of her father’s works. If you haven’t seen The BFG yet, put it on your list for this Holiday season.
The BFG Blu-Ray DVD is the Perfect Holiday Gift
The BFG Blu-Ray DVD is THE HOLIDAY movie to buy your children, your nieces & nephews, & your grandchildren. It is such a beautiful story & movie, it makes for a terrific family movie to watch during the holiday downtime. It is available to purchase today, so pick up a copy for yourself.
Other Articles from the Moana, The BFG Blu-ray Event, ABC TV Event & Stuck in the Middle Event you may enjoy:
I’m Heading to the #MoanaEvent
Walk the Moana Red Carpet with Me
She’s Not a Princess Mom, She’s a Hero!
Exclusive Interview with Moana’s Maui, The Rock
That Time I Met Musical Genius Lin-Manuel Miranda
Exclusive Interview with Moana’s Auli’i Carvalho
A Conversation with the Cast of Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle
Holiday Gift Guide for Moana: Moana-Inspired Gifts
The BFG Blu-Ray: A Perfect Holiday Gift
Behind the Scenes on the Set of Speechless
A Conversation with The BFG Roald Dahl’s Daughter, Lucy Dahl
Behind the Scenes on the Set of ABC’s Dr. Ken
Nicole Scherzinger Had To Play the Role of Moana’s Mother
6 Fun Facts About Moana from Directors Ron Musker & John Clements
Disclaimer: Disney sent me to Los Angeles on an all-expenses paid press trip, in exchange for my coverage of the red carpet premiere of Moana. All opinions are my own.