HOW TO BUILD A GIRL: Beanie Feldstein as Dolly Wilde

Caitlin Moran’s How To Build A Girl: who stars in the film, and when is it out?

Posted by for Books

There’s a lot of buzz around the star-studded adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s How To Build A Girl. Here’s everything we know about the film so far.

Updated on 23 June 2020: For a very long time, we’ve been doing our best to stay calm about the fact that Caitlin Moran’s hit novel How To Build A Girl is getting a movie makeover.

Now, at long last, we finally have a release date for the star-studded film. Directed by Coky Giedroyc – and produced by Monumental Films, FilmFour and Lionsgate – How To Build A Girl is going to be available to stream on Amazon Prime from 24 July. Which means, yeah, we’ll be able to enjoy it from the comfort of our own homes, lockdown or no lockdown!

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about the award-winning film.

As reported in March 2020: what is How To Build A Girl about?

How To Build A Girl – based on Moran’s non-fiction memoir of the same name – 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?

Fans of the original text will no doubt be relieve to learn that Moran is tackling the screenplay herself – which, like the wildly successful Lady Bird, will instill its coming-of-age with plenty of Nineties nostalgia and feminist life lessons. 

Who’s directing How To Build A Girl?

As mentioned earlier, 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. 

Who will star in How To Build A Girl?

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

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson Late Night
Emma Thompson will play Miss Trunchbull in Netflix's Matilda.

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

“We had fantasised 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.”

Beanie Feldstein

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. 

Sarah Solemani and Paddy Considine

Considine (Journeyman, Pride) and 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.” 

Alfie Allen

Allen, who played 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.”

Caitlin Moran

caitlin moran
Caitlin Moran also stars in the How To Build A Girl movie.

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?

And the rest…

Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), 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. 

What have critics said about How To Build A Girl so far?

Hardly anyone has seen it yet, but those who have are besotted with the movie. In fact, it was awarded the International Critics Award at the Toronto Fil Festival.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

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

Image: Getty

Share this article

Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Recommended by Kayleigh Dray