“Artemis Fowl” Has Director and Star

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Disney’s Artemis Fowl seems to be moving on schedule for a release sometime in summer of 2019, with Kenneth Branagh set to direct and newcomer Ferdia Shaw set to star as the title character.

Based on the series of fantasy/sci-fi novels by Eoin Colfer, the film stars Artemis Fowl, a twelve-year-old genius descended from a long line of criminal masterminds. He discovers evidence that the legendary fairy races actually exist hidden underground—and, with the disappearance of his father and his family’s subsequent ailing fortunes, he decides to kidnap one (specifically, one of their cops) and hold her for ransom.

Branagh, known mostly as an actor, has a string of successes as a director in his own right. He previously worked with Disney for its 2015 live-action remake of Cinderella, which was a great financial success, and his recent Murder on the Orient Express has already garnered plans for a sequel.

Shaw, meanwhile, is more untested—he was chosen from about 1,200 candidates to play the boy genius, but this seems to be his first professional acting role. He is Irish, however. Artemis (or at least Colfer) would probably be insulted if he wasn’t.

Most of the other main characters have been cast, including:

  • Lara McDonnell plays Holly Short, a member of the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance unit (LEPrecon), whom Artemis captures and holds for ransom.
  • Judi Dench plays Commander Root, Holly’s steely boss. Interestingly, this character was male in the novels, where it was a plot point that Holly was the first female admitted to LEPrecon.
  • Josh Gad plays Mulch Diggums, a kleptomaniac dwarf who is strong-armed into helping LEPrecon rescue Holly from Artemis.
  • Nonso Anozie plays Butler, Artemis’ bodyguard and one of the few people whom he respects.

Dench and Gad both appeared in Murder on the Orient Express, while Anozie was in Cinderella; McDonnell, like Shaw, is a relative newcomer, though she does have a few film credits, such as Love, Rose and The Delinquent Season.

The Artemis Fowl series is a fun, interesting set of books, and so far it looks like Disney is doing a good job planning this adaptation. Hopefully things will continue to look up as this sneaky kid and badass fairies head toward their theatrical debut.

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