• Mark Rylance in Anonymous, which questioned the authorship of Shakespeare's plays.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - British actor Mark Rylance will play the benevolent giant who is the title character in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of "The BFG."

28 Oct 2014 - 6:36 AM  UPDATED 29 Oct 2014 - 11:12 AM

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - DreamWorks Studios has cast Mark Rylance as the benevolent giant who is the title character in "The BFG."

Steven Spielberg will direct the adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's novel. Published in 1982, "The BFG" -- short for Big Friendly Giant -- tells the tale of a young girl, the Queen of England and the BFG, who set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world.

Spielberg will begin shooting "The BFG" in early 2015 and it will open in U.S. theaters on July 1, 2016.

"As I witnessed on stage, Mark Rylance is a transformational actor," said Spielberg. "I am excited and thrilled that Mark will be making this journey with us to Giant Country. Everything about his career so far is about making the courageous choice and I'm honored he has chosen 'The BFG' as his next big screen performance."

Rylance is currently working with Spielberg on DreamWorks' untitled Cold War spy thriller, which stars Tom Hanks. He's also attached to "The Gunman," "Days and Nights" and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of "Wolf Hall."

Rylance won Tony Awards for "Boeing Boeing," "Jerusalem" and "Twelfth Night" and Olivier Awards for "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Jerusalem."

DreamWorks acquired movie rights to the book in 2010 after Kathleen Kennedy brought it to the company. Melissa Mathison, who teamed with Spielberg and Kennedy on "E.T.," has written the screenplay.

Producers are Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Sam Mercer. Kennedy, John Madden and Michael Siegel are exec producing.

Disney is distributing the film in the U.S. and select international territories while Mister Smith Entertainment is handling distribution in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. DreamWorks' partner Reliance will distribute the film in India.

See Mark Rylance in Anonymous when it premieres on SBS ONE this Saturday at 8.30pm.