The 14 best Roald Dahl characters immortalised on film

Images courtesy of Sony Park Circus, Warner Bros. Park Circus, EntertainmentOne and Pathé

Some of our favourite big screen characters come from the pages of Roald Dahl’s stories. Now fans of all ages will be able to relive their most magical memories, as Roald Dahl’s films are being brought to life this summer in over 390 confirmed screenings and special events as part of the Roald Dahl on Film season.
Here are our 14 favourite Roald Dahl characters that have been immortalised on film:

1. The BFG

The film adaptation of the BFG has been in the pipeline for 25 years, with the development of ideas starting in 1991. Directed by the great Steven Spielberg, the feature film captivates, astounds and delights audiences all at once. This is the first time the friendliest giant will be on the big screen, having been previously adapted for TV with the voice of Sir David Jason. This time it is the turn of Oscar-winning Mark Rylance.

See The BFG at your local Picturehouse Cinema on Saturday 1st October 2016.

2. Matilda Wormwood

Surely the world’s most well-known and loved bookworm? Matilda captured the hearts of old and young alike on page, and Mara Wilson has continued to do so since the film was released in 1996. Her endearing nature and sunny disposition is enough to warm the cockles of even the coldest of hearts. After starring in family classics such as Mrs Doubtfire, A Simple Wish and Miracle on 34th Street, Wilson bid acting goodbye in 2000 and will always be remembered as a child star.

Fans now have the chance to watch her one last time on the big screen and awake all their senses in Scratch ‘n’ Sniff screenings of Matilda.  

You can also catch the less stinky version at a number of locations, including Macrorobert Arts Centre in Stirling on September 24th, 25th and 29th.

3. Charlie Bucket

Charlie’s overwhelming optimism in the face of adversity means that lovers of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory are rooting for him from the start, and who doesn’t love a rags to riches story? Apparently, Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie in the 1971 film, and Gene Wilder used to have lunch together during filming and would share a chocolate bar for dessert on their way back to the set.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is showing at Filmhouse, Edinburgh on Sunday 18th September 2016.

4. Mr Fox

We loved reading as Mr Fox and his family triumphed over the mean farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean; and it was just the same when Fantastic Mr Fox was brought to cinema screens in 2009. The book was inspired by the woodland surroundings of Roald Dahl’s childhood home in Buckinghamshire and director, Wes Anderson, made sure he visited the area while writing the screenplay for the film – he even stayed with Roald Dahl’s widow Felicity.

Catch Fantastic Mr Fox at your local Empire Cinema on the 17th – 18th September 2016.

5. Luke

Though he is never named in the book, the little boy from The Witches is called Luke in the movie version. This isn’t the only difference between the film and original story though; in the film we see Luke return to his human state after his brief stint as a mouse, but in the book there isn’t a spell to change him back – both endings were filmed and it was test audiences that chose the happier ending.

See The Witches at Cinemagic in Belfast on Saturday 24th September 2016, or at The Dukes in Lancaster on Saturday 8th October 2016.

6. James Henry Trotter

We always wished we could fly or sail away with James and his friends in their giant peach; who wouldn’t want to be best friends with a troupe of bugs and get carried to New York by a flock of birds? Roald Dahl refused numerous offers to have the book turned into a film, but his widow Felicity approved the 1996 version and said Roald Dahl would have been delighted with the way the movie brought the story to life.

Esio Trot is showing at Chapter, Cardiff on Saturday 17th – Sunday 18th September 2016.

7. Danny

There was nothing more exciting than reading about young Danny the Champion of the World as he sets out on his valiant quest to save his dad by driving one of the cars from the garage. It was even more thrilling to watch the tale unfold on screen, especially as Danny and his dad were played by real-life father and son – Oscar-winning Jeremy Irons and his boy Samuel.

8. Miss Honey

Was your teacher as gentle, kind and loving as Embeth Davidtz’s Miss Honey? There was no better setting for us to watch her in than that beautiful cottage surrounded by wildlife and flowers in the 1996 family favourite. The film was directed and co-produced by Danny DeVito, who also played Matilda’s father Harry Wormwood.

9. Willy Wonka

A man that is the perfect combination of weird and wonderful! The question is, who’s your favourite Mr Wonka; Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp? If it helps, Gene Wilder came up with his famous limp and somersault entrance himself as he said he wanted people to know how eccentric Willy Wonka is right from the start.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is showing at Filmhouse, Edinburgh on Sunday 18th September 2016.

10. Mrs Silver

The kind-hearted Mrs Silver from Esio Trot was exactly the kind of woman we all wished to have as a next door neighbour; portrayed perfectly by Judi Dench in the 2015 adaptation for BBC One.

See Esio Trot at Chapter, Cardiff on Saturday 17th – Sunday 18th September 2016.

11. Old Green Grasshopper

We couldn’t think of a better friend to accompany James and the gang on their adventure in the Giant Peach than Old Green Grasshopper. With plummy Simon Callow voicing the father figure in the 1996 film adaptation, his wisdom and guidance makes everyone wish for their own grasshopper.

Watch James and the Giant Peach at your local Empire Cinema on the 17th – 18th September 2016.

12. Sophie

When we were little, didn’t we all dream of being spirited away by a Big Friendly Giant to a land full of magic and wonder? Now we can watch Sophie in her adventure in the brand new adaptation of The BFG coming this summer; voiced by Ruby Barnhill, the role is the talented 12 year old’s first in a major motion picture.

See The BFG at your local Picturehouse Cinema on Saturday 1st October 2016.

13. The Oompa Loompas

Perhaps the most unusual of Roald Dahl’s fictional characters, the Oopma Loompas give an extra level of absurdity to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; in a good way of course! Their mischievous nature and amusing appearance more than makes up for the fact that they seem to cause trouble every time they pop up. In the book they were described as ‘tiny’ people with ‘funny long hair’ but it was the 1971 film that gave them their iconic appearance of bright orange skin and green hair.

Watch the Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, showing at Filmhouse, Edinburgh on Sunday 18th September 2016.

14. Mrs Fox

Mrs Fox is the ideal match for the cunning Mr Fox. She is also the only character to be given a name in the film; she is known as Felicity, perhaps named after Roald Dahl’s widow?

Catch Fantastic Mr Fox at your local Empire Cinema on the 17th – 18th September 2016.


To celebrate Roald Dahl 100 – the centenary year of Roald Dahl’s birth, Film Hub Wales and Chapter as Film Hub Lead Organisation, have developed a family-friendly film programme that will celebrate the world’s number one storyteller, who was born in Cardiff in 1916.