The cinematic adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s award-winning 1985 sci-fi novel, Ender’s Game, is at last coming together. X-Men Origins: Wolverine helmer Gavin Hood is writing and directing the flick, which will be produced by the ubiquitous duo of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Hawaii Five-0, Fringe, Star Trek, etc.).
Asa Butterfield was previously revealed to be the frontrunner to portray Andrew “Ender” Wiggin in the film; now we have confirmation that he has officially landed the role, along with news that a legendary veteran of blockbuster sci-fi fare is among those being eyed to play an important supporting part in the Ender’s Game adaptation.
Variety is reporting that Butterfield has “closed a deal” to star in Ender’s Game and that the project’s producers are now actively looking for a significantly older actor to play the adult Colonel Hyrum Graff. In the original Ender’s Game novel, that character is the Commander of Training at a futuristic military school known as the Battle School: a facility where “gifted” children are trained to combat an invasive insect-like alien force known as the Formics or “Buggers”.
Hyrum Graff is essentially a grizzled veteran warrior and hard-edged father-figure to the students of the Battle Academy, which includes young Ender. Hence why Viggo Mortensen was previously approached to tackle the role – and now, Harrison Ford is said to be the top choice in a group of “veteran thesps” being considered to handle the part.
This particular Ender’s Game role would not only fit Ford like a glove (see: just about every role he’s played over the past decade); the Star Wars/Indiana Jones icon’s involvement would also help to attract the interest of moviegoers who are not at all familiar with Card’s source material. Of course, the trick is getting the actor onboard.
Even if a deal with Ford fails to materialize, though, there are still numerous other elder actors (people like Peter Coyote and Stephen Lang immediately spring to mind) who have the screen presence to easily pull off the role.
While Butterfield should more than suffice as Ender (see: his turn in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo for proof), it remains to be seen how well Hood can translate the remainder of Card’s novel into film form. The original Ender’s Game storyline is quite dark and often psychologically-disturbing; not to mention, it features some brief (albeit graphic) bits of child-on-child violence and a good deal of underage nudity. Basically, it’s a narrative that lends itself to an R-Rated adaptation, but one that could also be PG-13 and still pack the same punch (if done correctly).
It’s also not fair to judge Hood’s directorial abilities solely by his work on the first Wolverine movie, given that (it’s generally acknowledged) he was only partly responsible for how that lackluster flick turned out. Given that he has also previously helmed gritty crime dramas like A Reasonable Man and the adolescent-centric Oscar-winning film Tsotsi, Hood does have experience handling dark tales about dangerous and troubled youths. That bodes well, as far as his qualifications to handle Ender’s Game go.
Ender’s Game is scheduled for theatrical release in the U.S. on March 15th, 2013.