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Hugh Bonneville cast as children's author Roald Dahl in upcoming biopic

The film, set in the 1960s, will focus on Roald's marriage to Patricia Neal

hugh bonneville
Gemma Strong
Gemma StrongOnline Digital News Director
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Hugh Bonneville has an exciting new project in the pipeline. The Downton Abbey star has been cast as children's author Roald Dahl in an upcoming biopic, it has been revealed. The as-yet untitled film will be set in the 1960s and will focus on Roald's marriage to American actress Patricia Neal. It is described as being in the same vein as the film Saving Mr Banks, which told the story of how Walt Disney tried to persuade PL Travers to let him make a film out of her novel Mary Poppins.

roald dahl patricia neal© Photo: Getty Images

Roald Dahl and actress Patrica Neal were married for 30 years, from 1953 until 1983

"I can't imagine anyone better to give the ambivalent nature of Roald Dahl's life," producer Elliot Jenkins said of Hugh's casting. "He was such a man of wounded parts below his polished veneer of self-confidence."

The 1960s saw Roald struggle to write some of his most famous works, including Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Roald and Patricia – who were married for 30 years - had to endure the death of their eldest child, daughter Olivia, who died in 1962 of measles encephalitis aged just seven. That same decade also saw Patricia appear in the movie Hud, a role which saw her win an Oscar for best actress. So far, the role of Patricia has yet to be case.

roald dahl patricia neal wedding© Photo: Rex

The couple pictured on their wedding day in 1953

It's not Hugh'’s only bit of casting news this week. It has also been announced that the 53-year-old will star in the new Thomas & Friends film, Journey Beyond Sodor. The actor will voice a new engine called Merlin, who believes that he has the power of invisibility. Hugh follows in the footsteps of Eddie Redmayne, Alec Baldwin and Olivia Colman, who has all previously featured in Thomas & Friends.

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