The Secret Garden star on pressure of adaptation of children’s classic

Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
·3-min read

The star of a new adaptation of The Secret Garden has said she hopes to shine a light on a mental health aspect of the classic story.

Dixie Egerickx plays Mary Lennox in the latest film version of the book about an orphaned girl who is sent to live with her uncle on his remote Yorkshire estate and discovers a hidden garden in the grounds.

The classic of English children’s literature by Frances Hodgson Burnett was first published in book form in 1911, but the latest adaptation, written by Jack Thorne, moves the story to 1947.

Egerickx, 14, told the PA news agency: “I actually read the book when I was about seven so I did know the story pretty well before actually doing the film.

“It was my mum’s favourite book when she was a kid so I really liked it.

“This is an adaptation of the source material so it adds something slightly more modern and also it does look more at the mental health aspect of the story; it goes more in depth into why Mary is like she is and her relationship with her mother, more than other adaptations do.

“It is different but I think they balanced it quite well with staying faithful to the original story but also giving it a slightly more modern twist.”

Dixie Egerickx in The Secret Garden (Sky Cinema/PA)
Dixie Egerickx in The Secret Garden (Sky Cinema/PA)

She added: “Especially with the pandemic, people’s mental health has taken a toll and suffered slightly so it’s an ever relevant message and I think it’s important and that is why I like our version, it goes more in depth into topics that maybe other films or the book doesn’t cover as much or in much detail.”

Discussing the expectations of taking on a beloved role from children’s literature, she said: “There is obviously a certain amount of pressure, probably more on the writer and director than there is on us.

“But I think it’s important to remember that is is literally just an adaptation of the novel, it’s not like it’s a remake, its an adaptation, and although it differs slightly it does remain pretty much, in terms of tone and message behind it, I think it remains pretty faithful to the original novel.”

Amir Wilson, who stars opposite Egerickx as Mary’s friend Dickon and is best known for playing Will Parry in the BBC version of His Dark Materials, said: “I think whenever you are doing something that is based off a book or doing an adaptation of something there is always a little bit of pressure.

Dixie Egerickx and Amir Wilson (Sky Cinema/PA)
Dixie Egerickx and Amir Wilson (Sky Cinema/PA)

“With books like The Secret Garden it means so much to the fans and so there is always a little bit of pressure – Am I going to do this right? Have I got this right? Are they going to be happy with what I’ve done?

“But I guess you’ve got to just do your thing and hope for the best.”

– The Secret Garden is a Sky Original and is in cinemas and on Sky Cinema on October 23.