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James & the Giant Peach with Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling & more

Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi lined up some of his Hollywood friends for a coronavirus lockdown charity reading of Roald Dahl’s classic “James and the Giant Peach”.

FILE: Taika Waititi, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay for "Jojo Rabbit," poses in the press room during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on 9 February 2020 in Hollywood, California. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Stuck at home with the kids? Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Cate Blanchett may be able to help.

Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi has lined up some of his Hollywood friends by videolink from their living rooms for a coronavirus lockdown charity reading of Roald Dahl’s classic “James and the Giant Peach”.

Waititi, director of “Jojo Rabbit” and “Thor: Ragnarok”, reads the British author’s 1961 children’s novel while his friends chime in, voicing characters and having fun.

Cynthia Erivo, Beanie Feldstein, Josh Gad, Mindy Kaling, Gordon Ramsay, Eddie Redmayne, Olivia Wilde, Ruth Wilson and Archie Yates are among the cast.

In trailers released on Monday, Chris Hemsworth boasts of his “loveliness” to his sceptical brother, “The Hunger Games” star Liam, in what is billed as their first performance together.

Streep’s silly voices are among the highlights, earning a laugh from Cumberbatch.

The novel will be read in 10 instalments, with the first two available from Monday on the Roald Dahl YouTube channel. Funds raised will go to Partners In Health, a charity for maternal health in Sierra Leone.

Waititi described himself as “an adult child myself”, who has read the book many times to his daughters.

It is about an orphan boy’s adventures in a surreal magical world inside a giant peach, and Waititi says it is the perfect story for our locked down times.

“This wacky, wonderful tale is about resilience in children, triumph over adversity and dealing with a sense of isolation which couldn’t been more relevant today,” he said.

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