Josh Gad Joins Judi Dench in Disney's 'Artemis Fowl'

Newcomer Ferdia Shaw has been cast as the lead after an extensive casting search.

Disney's Artemis Fowl has found its lead with newcomer Ferdia Shaw, who will play the 12-year-old genius that runs his family's criminal empire.

Shaw, who will make his big-screen debut in the Kenneth Branagh-helmed adaptation, was cast as the lead after an extensive search, which included more than 1,200 possible candidates.

The movie was adapted for the screen by playwright Conor McPherson from Eoin Colfer's best-selling book series, which follows the intelligent Artemis as he attempts to uncover a hidden race of fairies who may be behind his father’s disappearance.

Disney on Wednesday also announced that Josh Gad, who starred in the studio's live-action Beauty and the Beast, will be joining the cast as Mulch Diggums, a kleptomaniacal dwarf who works for the fairies.  

Lara McDonnell (The Delinquent Season) will play the elf hero Captain Holly Short, and Nonso Anozie (Cinderella) will play Artemis' bodyguard, Butler. It was previously reported that Judi Dench will star in the fantasy adventure, playing Commander Root, the steely leader of the fairy police force.

Artemis Fowl has been fast-tracked by the studio following a dating announcement in September and the October termination of Harvey Weinstein as a producer, after the revelation of his extensive history of sexual assault and harassment.

Weinstein originally picked up the rights to Colfer's series in the early 2000s while still at the head of Miramax, during Hollywood's Harry Potter craze. Disney reacquired the rights in 2013 and attached the now-disgraced movie mogul as a producer. Branagh will now produce the movie, along with Judy Hofflund, while Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal will act as executive producers. 

Disney will release Artemis Fowl on Aug. 9, 2019.