Following her Academy Award-nominated turn as Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, Hailee Steinfeld was favored by many fans to portray Katniss Everdeen in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games. While that casting didn’t come to fruition, it looks like the teen actress could portray the female lead in another noteworthy sci-fi literary adaptation: writer/director Gavin Hood’s cinematic take on Orson Scott Card’s popular novel, Ender’s Game.
Steinfeld has reportedly begun negotiations to sign on for Ender’s Game, which just recently secured Asa Butterfield (Hugo) to portray its young protagonist. The search is currently on to also fill one of the movie’s pivotal adult roles, with Harrison Ford rumored to be the filmmakers’ top choice.
Based on the award-winning, landmark best-seller by Orson Scott Card, on a futuristic earth, only the best and brightest children are recruited by a government desperate to fight back after an alien attack. When young Ender Wiggin emerges as a genius strategist, he suddenly becomes humanity’s last and best hope to destroy the alien Formic race.
Variety says that Steinfeld is up to play the character Petra Arkanian. In Ender’s Game, Petra is one of the rare female students at the Battle School (where adolescents are trained for combat against the Formics, or “Buggers”) and sees a kindred spirit in Ender – who, like she, is physically-small but brilliant and often aggressive. The tomboyish Petra becomes somewhat of a sister figure to Ender, but remains focused foremost on her training, preparing/serving as a soldier for humankind.
That description alone stirs up memories of Steinfeld’s performance as Mattie in True Grit, which certainly suggests she should more than suffice as Petra. While the young actress is also set to play a more traditionally-feminine character in a new screen adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, the Ender’s Game role is one that many of her fans will be intrigued to see her tackle.
Between the involvement of Butterfield and Steinfeld, the young (central) players in Ender’s Game are already shaping up to be engaging and richly layered. Both young actors look youthful enough for their respective parts; more importantly, they’ve already demonstrated a knack for effectively portraying characters with darker aspects to their personalities. That’s important, considering that Ender’s Game at times unfolds like Lord of the Flies in a futuristic sci-fi setting.
While Card’s original novel does lend itself to an R-Rated adaptation (if only because it features heavy amounts of underage nudity), Hood will likely end up delivering a “Hard PG-13″ cinematic version of Ender’s Game. Even so, in an age where thematically-morbid entertainment is more commonplace, that doesn’t mean the film cannot still pack a pretty strong punch – both viscerally and on an emotional level.
Ender’s Game is schedule for theatrical release in the U.S. on March 15th, 2013.