Netflix is scheduled to begin a deep exploration into the works of prolific children’s author Roald Dahl in the near future, and we now know who will be anchoring the antagonist position in their version of Matilda: None other than the great Ralph Fiennes. It’s an allusion to the stage musical version of Matilda on which this film is based—running in London since 2011, this version of Matilda had consistently starred a man rather than a woman in the role. In the beloved 1996 original starring Mara Wilson, the role of cruel headmistress The Trunchbull had been played by Welsh actress Pam Ferris.
It’s hard not to be excited about seeing what Fiennes will do with such an unusual part, which calls for a brutish woman of prodigious size and strength. He’s been a chameleon throughout his career, playing everything from well-to-do concierge, to evil wizard, to German factory owner, to sadistic serial killer. Regardless, Fiennes will be director by Matthew Warchus, the original director of the Matilda musical in London, which also ran on Broadway from 2013 to 2017. Tony winner Dennis Kelly is reportedly writing the film’s screenplay.
Other casting information for coveted roles like Matilda herself has not yet been made public, although rumors have been floating for some time that Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer may be playing Miss Honey, the Trunchbull’s good-hearted niece. This Matilda adaptation is to be followed by a number of other Roald Dahl projects, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG, which was made into a film by Spielberg as recently as 2016.
We’ll bring you more information on Matilda’s development as it breaks.