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10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Howl’s Moving Castle


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Based on the novel of the same name, Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the most well-loved and critically acclaimed Studio Ghibli movies. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki and with an English voice cast including Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, and Jean Simmons, Howl’s Moving Castle tells the story of a young woman who gets cursed and ends up joining the wizard Howl on his adventures.

RELATED: Howl’s Moving Castle: 10 Pieces Of Fan Art That Are As Magical As The Movie

While not as successful as Spirited AwayHowl’s Moving Castle was still a huge success upon its release, with the film even being nominated for an Academy Award, and is still one of the Ghibli collection’s most loved movies.

10 Christian Bale Agreed To Play Any Role

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Spirited Away was one of the most successful Japanese movies of all time. The Hayao Miyazaki helmed masterpiece blew audiences away around the world, introducing a whole new generation to Ghibli movies and winning an Academy Award in the process.

Christian Bale was one of those who was blown away by the artistry behind Spirited Away, with the British actor agreeing to play any role in the movie, though he would ultimately land one of the lead roles – Howl.

9 Second Batman Actor In A Ghibli Movie

Michael Keaton Christian Bale Batman

It’s commonplace for Studio Ghibli movies to attract Hollywood superstars to lend their voices to their movies. For instance, Liam Neeson, Anne Hathaway, and Kirsten Dunst have all lent their voices to some of Miyazaki’s movies.

However, what is interesting to note is that two Batmen have also starred in Ghibli movies. In addition to Christian Bale in Howl’s Moving Castle, Michael Keaton starred as the lead in Porto Rosso. 

8 Sophie Has Powers In The Novel

In the movie, Sophie has no magical powers, unlike Howl and the Witch of the Waste. This gives her a unique place in the story as, despite being affected by the magic around her, she’s unable to respond with any magic of her own.

RELATED: Howl’s Moving Castle: 10 Most Memorable Quotes, Ranked

In the book, however, Sophie has her own powerful magical abilities. In the novel, Sophie is the one who defeats the Witch of the Waste, along with her own Fire Demon.

7 Hayao Miyazaki Travelled To The UK For A Private Screening

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most iconic and influential directors of all time, with the Japanese auteur directing some of the most loved animated movies of all time, including My Neighbour TotoroPrincess Mononoke, and Spirited Away.

Despite the fact that Howl’s Moving Castle wasn’t set to be released in the UK until the Autumn of 2005, Miyazaki flew to the UK in the Summer of 2004 to give the author of the book, Diana Wynne Jones, a private screening of the film.

6 First Appearance Of The ‘Batman Growl’

batman begins swear to me

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is considered by many to be the best live-action adaptation of the Batman mythos, with some going further and suggesting it is the best live-action comic book adaptation of all time.

This success was built upon the foundation of Christian Bale’s brilliant work on the Batman character. One facet of this character that is often parodied is Bale’s gruff Batman growl. Viewers of Howl’s Moving Castle will see Christian Bale’s Howl use this growl prior to the release of Batman Begins.

5 Voice Actors For Young And Old Sophie

Much of the plot revolves around the curse placed upon Sophie by the Witch of the Waste. This curse not only turns Sophie into an old woman, but it also prohibits Sophie from revealing the details of the curse to anyone, preventing Howl from actually helping her.

RELATED: Howl’s Moving Castle: The Movie’s 10 Biggest Changes From The Book

In the Japanese version, both young and old versions of Sophie are voiced by Chieko Baishô; whereas in the English dub young Sophie is voiced by Emily Mortimer and old Sophie is voiced by Jean Simmons.

4 Metaphors Of The Castle

The movie is one of the most beautiful animated films of all time, perfectly capturing the style of the novel, while also introducing the classic design that many have come to associate with Studio Ghibli.

In addition to its gorgeous artwork, the film is full of metaphors. The castle represents Howl, with the walking structure being a beautiful yet disorganized beast. Additionally, the black door represents Howl’s unconscious mind and the darkness within.

3 Hunger Games Connections

Josh Hutcherson Peeta The Hunger Games

Studio Ghibli has a reputation for including up and coming young actors and actresses in their movies. For instance, Anne Hathaway, Kirsten Dunst, and Tom Holland have all starred in Studio Ghibli movies.

Another young actor who appeared in a Ghibli movie before getting their big break was Josh Hutcherson, who starred in Howl’s Moving Castle alongside Jenna Malone, both of whom would appear in the Hunger Games franchise.

2 Sophie’s Second Sister

As with any adaptation from book to movie, the filmmakers will take some liberties in order to make the story work better on screen. This also happened in the case of Howl’s Moving Castle, with the Ghibli adaptation even cutting out a character from the books entirely.

RELATED: Every Studio Ghibli Movie, Ranked Worst To Best

In the book, Sophie had two sisters rather than just one. In the book, Sophie’s second sister, Martha, is sent to be a witch’s apprentice and learns a spell to change her appearance, allowing her to work in disguise at a nearby bakery.

1 Hayao Miyazaki Wasn’t Initially Set To Direct

While Hayao Miyazaki’s name is often associated, almost synonymously, with Studio Ghibli, the Japanese director hasn’t directed every single movie released by the Japanese animation studio. Films such as The Cat Returns were actually directed by Hiroyuki Morita.

Some may be shocked to learn that Miyazaki wasn’t originally set to direct Howl’s Moving Castle. Originally it was Mamoru Hosoda who was set to direct, but after he left the movie Miyazaki stepped in.

NEXT: 10 Inspiring Quotes From Studio Ghibli Films


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Updated: October 31, 2020 — 3:00 am

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