If you grew up in the 90s, you probably remember seeing “Matilda” and wishing you could have your powers. But we bet you never gave much importance to Miss Trunchbull, except for the hope that you have never met a teacher like that. However, there is more to Trunchbull than meets the eye, and even more to the woman who played it.
“Matilda” was a novel written by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl in 1988. It tells the story of a girl with telekinetic powers and her adventures at home and school. It was Dahl’s first book to appear among the 100 best children’s novels. The actor Danny DeVito loved him so much, that he decided to produce it and even direct it. But launching it would not be easy.
A villain like no other Share
Agatha Trunchbull, the director of Crunchem Hall Elementary School, is probably one of the greatest villains in literature and cinema of all time. In fact, Dahl based the character on his wife’s former teacher, who was so cruel that he forced her to stay awake watching the ice cream melt once. It was a good starting point, but Dahl took Miss Trunchbull to the next level.
The worst nightmare of a child
If you saw “Matilda” when you were a child, you were probably terrified by Miss Trunchbull. It was bad, frightening and violent, even with the youngest children in his school. Maybe you remember throwing a girl across the garden with her pigtails or the iconic scene where she forces a student to eat a whole chocolate cake. The actress who played her had her work cut out for her.
His first big role in the movie
Miss Trunchbull was portrayed by British actress Pam Ferris, who was 48 years old at the time. She had been a theater actor all her life and played maternal figures in some television shows. So he enjoyed being able to play such a meaty and funny character on the big screen. But getting into the role was not easy.
Creando esa mirada aterradora
Although Ferris was not a supermodel, her normal appearance is very different from that of Miss Trunchbull. Therefore, it took many hours of makeup to achieve its menacing appearance. It involved putting additional skin on the end of the nose and false hairs on the upper lip and nose. She was almost unrecognizable. But she did not just trust the costumes to sell the character.
Scary in and out of the set
Ferris knew that to really embody Miss Trunchbull, he had to keep that ominous feeling around him. So she stayed away from the child actors as much as she could, as she thought that familiarity would reduce the tension between the characters. Indeed, his strategy worked. The terrified faces of the children in the movie were 100% real. Even so, some of the children still wanted to meet her.
Too sweet to ignore
As good an actress as she is, Ferris could not hide her kind nature all the time. Some of the bravest children would approach him between takes and hold his hand. “I completely fell in love with them and there was a couple that I wanted to bring with me to Britain,” he said. But it was still important for her to do justice to her character.
A credible background
In the book by Roald Dahl, Miss Trunchbull says she was never a child, which explains her miserable nature. But Ferris gave the character a different story. For her, Trunchbull had taken too many steroids during her time as an Olympic hammer thrower. It ended up affecting her temper and left her in a state of permanent fury. But Pam’s commitment to her character put her at risk sometimes.
Although he played the hardest characters in the film, Ferris was injured twice during filming. All the chalk dust in the air in the classroom got into her eyes and almost left her blind. Then, during the pigtail throwing scene, he cut his hands with the thinnest cables used for the trick. Fortunately, none of the injuries were serious, and Pam is still in good shape, just look at her now.
The actress behind the paper
Pam Ferris is an actor of classic formation, in the line of Judy Dench, Maggie Smith or Patrick Stewart. His ability to embody a character, however small, is what has helped him to have such a prolific and lasting career. Besides, she has that British elegance that does not fade with age. Definitely nothing like his counterpart of “Matilda”.
A life in Globetrotting
Although she definitely embodied Miss Trunchbull in the film, Ferris’ life had very little in common with the character. She was born in Germany to Welsh parents, while her father was serving in the Royal Air Force. She has lived in Wales, New Zealand and England. His passion for acting began at an early age, and influenced his whole life.
Free of children and happy
However, there is something that Ferris and Miss Trunchbull had in common. They never had children. But Pam did not hate children. Rather, she chose to focus on her craft. “I was obsessed with work in my youth. That’s why I did not get married until I was 38 years old and the reason why I did not have children, “he said once. Maybe that made her good at painting characters without children.
Villains who love to hate
Miss Trunchbull was not the only memorable villain played by Pam Ferris. She also appeared as the vile Aunt Marge in 2004’s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” making Harry’s life as miserable as that of the children at Crunchem Hall. In real life, however, Ferris is as adorable a person as you can find.
Her husband of three decades
Pam Ferris has had a long and prolific career as an actress, from theater to television, and movies. But, when he was approaching 40, he reached a new milestone in his personal life: he married the also British actor Roger Frost. Frost, coincidentally, also had a part in an adaptation of Roald Dahl.
Roald Dahl is everywhere
Roger Frost had a small role in the 2005 version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” This is not surprising, given that Dahl’s works have adapted to the big screen many times. Gene Wilder iconically represented Willy Wonka in the 1971 version of that book. We have also seen “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Big Friendly Giant” come to life in the movies.