So, Who Portrayed the Trunchbull Better?

So yes, there is a musical version of Matilda coming to Netflix, and it does appear that people are already excited about it. But there is one character in the story that does kind of stand out and does make some people wonder who might have done it better. It’s tough to tell from the trailers at this time, but the fact that Emma Thompson has hidden in plain sight more than once in a movie is reason enough to think that she would have been a great selection for the role of the Trunchbull. If anyone remembers, the Trunchbull was big, mean, nasty and prone to taking out her frustrations on the children in her school when she felt the need. This is the kind of individual that a lot of kids would have dreaded since she’s the kind of individual that nightmares are made of, and she didn’t hesitate to prove that when given the opportunity. But the reality is that Pam Ferris managed to be one of the scariest, yet most comical, individuals of all time since she’s still remembered by many people today. 

It remains to be seen, but it’s fair to think that the fact that this is now a musical might make a bit of a difference since it might soften up the edges of the Trunchbull even further and maybe even take the true threat she represents out of the movie. That feels like it would be a mistake, but so far the teaser looks as though it’s keeping to the story and not allowing the psychotic figure to become a whipped version of herself. To be fair, Emma Thompson is capable of transforming herself into just about anything she needs to be to complete a role, and it’s not tough to think that she would be up to this task since she has played a few nasty and mean-spirited characters in the past. But still, Pam Ferris is very hard to beat in this role. 

One reason is that Thompson really has to disappear into this role, meaning that the makeup process and the attempt to make her look huge, stocky, and bulky were bound to be extensive. No offense to Pam, since she is a great actress, but she slipped into the role of the Trunchbull quite easily it would appear, as the regular look of someone’s mother or grandmother that she gives off naturally dissolved into a fierce and predatory look that rightfully scared kids when she took on the role. Plus, her acting was so spot-on that one couldn’t help but hate the character, as she was one of the nastiest and most hated villains in kid movies at that time. A lot of us probably still remember that sickening leer she would give when she was satisfied with whatever bit of malice she’d just meted out to a child. But all credit to Pam, she played this role so well that one can still hear her thudding steps on the stairs or see her snarling visage in the depths of their memory every now and then. The Trunchbull was truly given an image that was meant to inspire night terrors, but thankfully there was enough comedy in Matilda that took that severe edge off and left the story enjoyable. 

By comparison, Thompson’s version does look intimidating, but she also doesn’t look like something that would inspire the same kind of nightmares as Pam’s. Let’s say that it’s going to be decided by acting ability and the possibility that Emma’s version will be best described as a character that’s going to inspire a new type of unease and terror in the kids. It’s highly amusing how different characters have been seen throughout the years when it comes to bringing them back in one way or another, and the Trunchbull is one that a lot of people might not have thought would come back. But the fact is that Matilda was such a great story that a lot of folks tend to remember it fondly to this day, and are usually ready and willing to discuss whether it should be given another version or even a sequel. But when it comes to the Trunchbull, Thompson is kind of an odd choice. 

Is she going to be enjoyed by the fans? Oh, definitely. Emma Thompson is the type of actress that a lot of people can’t help but love since she puts so much into each role she’s given. Will Pam Ferris have anything to say about this? I would imagine she’s ready to congratulate Emma Thompson since while she did a great job in the role, it’s usually a good idea to wish another actor well when taking on the same role. Plus, Pam’s version didn’t belong to a musical, so the dynamic is bound to be a bit different. All in all, trying to pick out the better Trunchbull is kind of difficult since both women are quite talented, and each version is bound to fit as needed into their respective movies. 

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