Books

This is who Emma Thompson will play in Caitlin Moran’s How To Build A Girl

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Kayleigh Dray
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We have a feeling this book-to-film adaptation might be one of the best yet…

Caitlin Moran’s hit novel How To Build A Girl is getting a movie makeover – and the cast line-up is undeniably brilliant as Emma Thompson and Chris O’Dowd have now added their names to it. We know, it’s all becoming too much. 

O’Dowd’s part has yet to be confirmed, but we’ll see Thompson take up the part of the music magazine editor who employs young ‘Dolly Wilde’ (Beanie Feldstein).

The book – a non-fiction memoir – introduces us to Johanna Morrigan, a young Wolverhampton local who’s struggling to get to grips with the “incredible unfolding” that comes with puberty. We see her figure out what to call her vagina (think “slang names, pet names, made-up names”), teach herself about masturbation, battle her raging hormones and navigate all the usual issues that come with being a teenage girl. 

Desperate to get out of her home town and make a name for herself, she eventually moves to London, where she reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde, a fast-talking lady sex-adventurer and music critic. Gaining notoriety as an enfant terrible, she has finally figured out how to build a girl – but is this the girl she wanted to build?

Director Coky Giedroyc, whose TV credits include episodes of The Killing and BBC drama The Hour, will helm the feature – while Alison Owen (Suffragette) and Debra Hayward (Les Miserables) will produce. 

And, with Moran tackling the screenplay for the semi-autobiographical novel herself, we don’t doubt that all of the book’s humour and brilliance will remain in the big screen version – which, like the wildly successful Lady Bird, will instil its coming-of-age with plenty of Nineties nostalgia and feminist life lessons. 

So who will be starring in the film version of Moran’s life? Here’s the cast so far…

Emma Thompson - Editor 

Emma Thompson will play the editor of the music magazine who employs young ‘Dolly Wilde’ (Beanie Feldstein). 

“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, according to The Hollywood Reporter

“Thank goodness we struck lucky. We feel blessed.”

Johanna Morrigan – Beanie Feldstein

Beanie Feldstein will play Morrigan (often described as “one of the great female literary icons” of our time) in the 1990-set movie.

Addressing the casting decision, Owen said: “We searched high and low for a girl who could match the boundless wit, sparkle and big heart of Caitlin’s super-heroine and feel incredibly lucky to have found her in the effervescent Beanie Feldstein.”

Taking to Twitter, Moran added: “Beanie is just… astonishing. The world is going to EXPLODE with love for her.”

Feldstein has previously starred in the likes of Lady Bird, The Female Brain and Neighbours 2 – and is said to be over-the-moon to have been given the chance to take the lead in this “outrageously funny and utterly affecting” story. 

Johanna’s parents  – Sarah Solemani and Paddy Considine

Paddy Considine (Journeyman, Pride), Sarah Solemani (Bridget Jones Baby, ‘Him & Her’) have joined the cast of How To Build A Girl.

Discussing their role in the film, Hayward says: “We’ve been incredibly lucky to add Paddy Considine and Sarah Solemani, as Johanna’s ‘unconventional parents’, to our already stellar cast. And there are more surprises to come.” 

John Kite – Alfie Allen

Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy in Game Of Thrones, is set to play a rock star called John Kite in the film.

Speaking about the character previously, Moran told GQ: “John Kite in the book was originally called John Grant all the way through and was only changed at the last minute. I love John Grant so much and that’s how I imagine John Kite singing. They were very adamant that I couldn’t name a fictional character in a book after someone who was already living.

“In the end I saw sense and changed his name.”

Unknown – Scarlett Moffatt

Moran recently responded to a tweet from TV presenter Scarlett Moffat offering her a cameo in the film. This is shaping up nicely…

Unknown – Caitlin Moran

Many outlets are reporting that Moran might pull a Margaret Atwood and take on a cameo herself, too – perhaps as Aunty Lauren. We hope as Aunty Lauren, anyway: she is an “ace” character who “has a bit of a past” including, but not limited to “pouring Fairy Liquid into the fountain in Queen’s Square”. 

Keep your fingers crossed, eh?

Laurie Kynaston (England Is Mine, ‘Cradle to Grave’), Joanna Scanlan (Pin Cushion, Notes on a Scandal), Arinzé Kene (The Pass), Frank Dillane (In the Heart of the Sea), Tadhg Murphy (‘Guerrilla’) and Ziggy Heath (‘Spies of Warsaw’) will also star in the film. 

It is being reported that How To Build A Girl will go before the cameras this summer, which would suggest a 2019 release date.

As we get confirmed details, we’ll pass them your way. However, if you can’t wait that long, we recommend buying tickets to this year’s Stylist Live, where Moran will be appearing as a speaker.

Find out more here.

This article has been updated with new casting details. It was originally published in June 2018.

Image: Getty