Walt Disney Pictures has released a first look at Judi Dench's Commander Root in the upcoming Artemis Fowl film.
Shared as an Entertainment Weekly exclusive, the first look image shows the Oscar-winning actress donning pointy fairy ears to play the gender-swapped take on the leader of the fairy police force and looking formidable as she leads her forces. You can check out the image below.
While the fairy ears are an important part of Dench's transformation into Commander root, director Kenneth Branagh told EW that her transformation went far deeper than costume and prosthetics.
"When we started to rehearse, she leant forward, and her shoulders stooped, and her voice dropped, and then suddenly this gravelly, Churchillian, curmudgeonly figure started to emerge," Branagh said.
Artemis Fowl is an adaptation of author Eoin Colfer's beloved book series of the same name. The series follows Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw), a 12-year-old genius and descendent of a long line of criminal masterminds who finds himself going up against the fairies who just might be responsible for his father's disappearance. This definitely causes him to get on Commander Root's bad side.
While Root was written as male in the book, the film switches that up. It's a change that Branagh explains was done with Colfer's blessing to reflect how times have changed since the first Artemis Fowl book was published in 2001.
“Eoin Colfer was always very much involved with the development of these scripts, and he’s a man who writes and lives right in the here and now, and I think he was very aware that larger conversations about societal roles have moved on from the time when he wrote this first novel where Holly as a lone woman in a man’s world was an important part of the story,” says Branagh. “Here, a sense of identity, a sense of what her father did, her place in Haven City, her place in LEPrecon is as important as her gender identification.”
Plans for an Artemis Fowl film were first announced in 2001, when Miramax purchased the rights and Lawrence Guterman signed on to direct. By 2003, Colfer confirmed that the script was complete, and that casting was scheduled to begin later that same year, but was skeptical about whether the project would ever actually get off the ground. After a decade in development hell, Jim Sheridan expressed interest in direct, but in 2013 Disney announced that it was planning a film that would cover the first two books in the eight-book series with Michael Goldenberg, Robert De Niro, and Jane Rosenthal on board as executive producers.
In 2015, Branagh and McPherson were brought on board. In 2017 and into 2018, casting announcement began to surface, with Irish newcomer Ferdia Shaw taking the lead role. Principal photography began in March 2018 with filming taking place in England, Northern Ireland, and Ho Chi Minh City.
Colfer has since clarified that the film will cover just the first book in the series, and combine it with the sequel The Arctic Incident, as originally announced.
Disney's Artemis Fowl opens in theaters August 9, 2019.