Based on the globally acclaimed best-selling book “The Book Thief” by Australian author Markus Zusak, 20th Century Fox’s latest movie of the same title introduces us to a German girl named Liesel Meminger at the heart of the story.
|Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox|
Set during World War II in Germany in January of 1939, Sophie Nélisse takes on the role of 9-year old Liesel – a foster girl living outside of Munich brought to a community where amongst those whom she learned to love, finally discovered her ultimate passion – books.
At a time when uncertainty looms, Liesel is brought to her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann (played by Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson respectively) while her younger brother Werner dies along the way to the Hubermanns. In the cemetery where her brother is buried, a book entitled “The Grave Digger’s Handbook” found its way to Liesel’s hands, the first of her collections from which she’d eventually become “The Book Thief.”
The powerful material that is “The Book Thief” is transformed into an affirming, life changing movie from the production team that brought “Life of Pi” to the big screen and from Brian Percival, director of several episodes of the high profile series “Downton Abbey.” Percival has found the movie’s heroine upon seeing Nélisse’s audition tape. "It was quite uncanny, this kid. I was taken right away," says Percival. "It was this mixture of naive innocence but at the same time she's actually quite ballsy. You feel that you can get kneed in the groin at any point."
Nélisse who also played a starring role in “Monsieur Lazhar” in 2011 shares that her role in “The Book Thief” was daunting. Narrated by Death, the story’s tough emotional content which Nelisse’s character Liesel comes of age in an intolerant society within a war had Geoffrey Rush raving on Nelisse’s performance. "I've had the opportunity in my career to have played opposite some extraordinary actresses and Sophie is just a true, natural original," says Rush. "She's a gifted performer who has an instinctive and highly creative rapport with the lens.”
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