We participated in a special brunch with Lucy Dahl to celebrate The BFG on Blu-Ray and DVD during the Disney-hosted #MoanaEvent.
If you love the stories of Roald Dahl, you might expect that a childhood with him as your father would be magical. And you would be correct. “It was really amazing growing up with Roald Dahl as my dad because everything was a fairy tale,” says Lucy Dahl, his youngest daughter.
When it comes to her father’s characters, The BFG holds a special place in her heart. “The BFG, he is real to me. He lived under our apple orchard, which was beyond our garden, and every single night, he would blow dreams into my sister and my bedroom.” Their bedroom window was always cracked open, even in winter, for his visits. “After he [Roald Dahl] 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.” Their father would then make his way outside and insert a long bamboo stick into their bedroom to blow in their dreams.
They discovered The BFG was a bit of fantasy from their father after he had a small accident. “One night the bamboo stick was coming back through the window and we heard this enormous crash-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.'” recounts Dahl.
The BFG of the book and movie are not exactly like The BFG of Dahl’s childhood. “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… 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.”
Her feelings towards sharing her BFG changed a bit when Steve Spielberg began production on The BFG. “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,” recounts Dahl. “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.”
She definitely has a favorite part of the film. “Dream Land. When Sophie goes…up into Dream Land, just 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.” She also appreciated the trouble that Spielberg took in getting The BFG right. “These shoes [the BFG’s] 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.”
If you were wondering if Roald Dahl’s love of adventure made his way into his parenting, you’d be correct. “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,” remembers Dahl. “He didn’t ever instill fear or danger in us for anything. He wanted us to be brave and courageous.”
He also helped with their schoolwork, from doing their homework for them so they could play to creating songs when they needed to memorize things. “We would learn our times tables in song. Anything that we couldn’t memorize, he would put to song.”
Now that The BFG is out on Blu-Ray and DVD, she hopes families will embrace it this holiday. “[The] 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.”
Lucy Dahl is the youngest daughter of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal. She is a writer, a screenwriter and a producer. She wrote the teen comedy Wild Child, starring Emma Roberts, Aiden Quinn, Alex Pettifer and Natasha Richardson. She is currently writing and creating a new comedy for TV, as well as executive producing a TV adaptation of one of her father’s stories.Lucy divides her time between East and West coasts, and has two children, Phoebe and Chloe, and two dogs, Thelma and Lola.