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The big-screen adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s best-selling book How to Build a Girl has added double Academy Award winner Emma Thompson and Bridesmaids and Juliet, Naked star Chris O’Dowd to its cast, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Thompson and O’Dowd join the film’s already announced lineup, including Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird) in the lead and Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), Paddy Considine (The Death of Stalin) and Sarah Solemani (Bridget Jones’ Baby).
The comedic coming-of-age story comes from U.K. producer Monumental Pictures, which optioned Moran’s semi-autobiographical 2014 book and developed the project with Film4. Coky Giedroyc (The Killing, The Hour) directs from Moran’s screenplay.
How to Build a Girl, set in 1993, sees Feldstein play Johanna Morrigan, a smart, opinionated and overweight 16-year-old. Hormones raging, she is desperate to get out of her hometown and make a name for herself — which she does, reinventing herself as Dolly Wilde, a rock music critic. Gaining notoriety as an enfant terrible, she finally figures out “how to build a girl.” But is this the girl she wanted to build?
Considine and Solemani will play Johanna’s “unconventional parents,” while Thompson will play her editor at a music magazine.
“We had fantasized about Emma Thompson playing the editor since we first spoke with Caitlin about this project — I think Caitlin might have cut the scene if Emma hadn’t agreed!” said Alison Owen of Monumental Pictures. “Thank goodness we struck lucky. We feel blessed.”
Protagonist launched world sales on How to Build a Girl in Cannes this year, with Lionsgate later coming on board for U.K. distribution.
Monumental Pictures’ Owen and Debra Hayward produce. Film4 are co-financing with Tango Entertainment. Executive producers are Daniel Battsek, Ollie Madden and Sue Bruce-Smith for Film4, Tim Headington and Lia Buman for Tango, Zygi Kamasa and Emma Berkofsky for Lionsgate, and Moran. Finance also comes from the BFI’s locked box initiative.
Thompson, currently starring in Johnny English Strikes Again, recently joined the untitled Men in Black spin-off alongside Chris Hemsworth and Rebecca Ferguson and will be heard in the Voyage of Doctor Dolittle (voicing a parrot). O’Dowd, meanwhile, will soon be seen opposite Rosamund Pike in State of the Union, a 10-minute (per episode) sitcom from Nick Hornby for SundanceTV.
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