It takes a truly talented actor to bring a character to life. It’s even more taxing when the role is based from a famous book. To say the expectations to deliver are high is an understatement. *Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, The Witches*, and *Matilda*, are just some of the novels from British author Roald Dahl’s that have been turned into live action films. Directors and producers know that finding the actor to play the hero with a heart of gold is just as important as finding the evil villain to terrify little children and adults alike. For the 1996 film *Matilda*, directed by actor Danny DeVito, the responsibility of playing the evil principal Miss Trunchbull fell on the shoulders of Pam Ferris.Ferris played the authoritarian principal in Crunchem Hall Elementary School.
She uses that brawn to discipline and abuse the children in the school.
No punishment was too harsh for Miss Trunchbull.
She is also described as “more like an eccentric and rather bloodthirsty follower of the stag-hounds than the headmistress of a nice school for children.”
The actor never had children herself.
“I was obsessed with work in my youth. It’s why I didn’t get married until I was 38 and the reason I didn’t have kids,” she says.
“I know I wouldn’t have been a half-bad mother, but that’s what happened. There’s no regretting it,” Ferris admits.
He has appeared in “The Bourne Identity”, “Notting Hill”, and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The latter is based on another one of Roald Dahl’s books turned into film.
Today, she enjoys dancing with her husband to music by Amy Winehouse and David Bowie.
Liccy admits her headmistress once caught her and a friend sneaking ice cream to their rooms one night.
Liccy Dahl was one of the producers in the film Matilda.
Ferris wanted to ensure the children were genuinely afraid of her.
“We had a discussion, Danny (DeVito) and I, before we met the little ones, that I should stay aloof from them and only meet them in character to try and keep that awed look in their face and the fear,” she recalls. “It’s not a Daniel Day Lewis thing – it was for the benefit of the little ones.”
“It broke down very quickly because they were daring little ones there that just came straight up to me and put their hand in mine between takes,” Ferris admits.
So much for her method acting skills.
She revealed to Radio Times that she modeled her character after a local gardener.
She continues, “But she has that sound in her voice – you know, that kind of hard sound.”
“No! People don’t recognize themselves. You can be remarkably accurate in a characterization and other people recognize it but people do not recognize themselves,” Ferris says. “That’s a level of un-self-awareness that I can only be grateful for.”
“You see, my theory is that she was on steroids – this is not mentioned in the book or the screenplay, but I think if you’re that obsessed about your own physique you probably would get into steroids,” Ferris explains.
“And there’s the other part of her which is the bit that collapses and goes and eats half a chocolate cake because she can’t keep up the raw steak,” Ferris continues.
Her character may eat raw steak but in real life, Ferris is a vegetarian.
Ferris spent hours in makeup and hair to achieve the grey, crooked teeth, bushy eyebrows, moustache, and sweaty face.
“And then it was mainly little bits of extra hair and three or four colour inks with very fine brushes which make veins and blobs,” she says. “I was textured like a Jackson Pollock.”
“We were going to have big top teeth all the way across but in the course of extra teeth being fitted I said I quite like it with only half in because it gave me a kind of Elvis sneer,” Ferris recalls. “So we left just the one side of extra teeth in and it did a wonderfully cruel thing to my mouth.”
“I did have false eyelashes… and they were on my chin! And a little bit on my top lip,” Ferris admits.
She was willing to go through her transformation for her art.
Her eyes had to be washed out from all the chalk that got in her eyes and she got stitches in the scene where she was throwing the little girl over the fence. In reality she was holding on to wires that were attached to her hand, during the take the wires nearly took her finger off.
She was Aunt Marge in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”