If you grew up in the ’90s, you’ll probably remember to watch “Matilda” and wish you had her powers. But I bet you never thought much of Miss Trunchbull, other than hoping you’d never find a master like that. There’s more to Trunchbull than meets the eye, though, and even more to the woman who played her.
“Matilda” was a novel written by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl in 1988. It tells the story of a young woman with telekinetic powers and her adventures at home and at school. It was Dahl’s first book to appear in the Top 100 children’s novels. Actor Danny DeVito loved it so much, he decided to produce it and even direct it. But casting would not be easy.
A villain like no other Agatha Trunchbull,
the headmistress of Crunchem Hall Elementary School, is probably one of the greatest literary and cinematographic villains of all time. Dahl actually 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.
If you saw “Matilda” as a child,
you were probably terrified of Miss Trunchbull. She was mean, scary and violent, even to the youngest children in her school. You may remember her throwing a young girl around the yard next to 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 done for her.
Her first role in a major film
Miss Trunchbull was played by British actress Pam Ferris, who was 48 at the time. She had been a stage actress all her life and had played maternal figures on some television shows. So he enjoyed being able to play such a meaty and fun character on the big screen. But getting into the role wasn’t easy.
Creating that scary look
Although Ferris was not a supermodel, her normal appearance is very different from that of Miss Trunchbull. So it took many hours of makeup to achieve her menacing look. It involved putting extra skin on the end of the nose and fake hairs on the upper lip and nose. She was almost unrecognizable. But he didn’t just depend on clothes to sell the character.