Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One has lived an interesting life since its release in 2011. Starting out as cult classic, its offbeat take on a nostalgia-obsessed dystopian world earned it some serious critical plaudits and awards, rocketing it onto the best-seller list. Now, with Steven Spielberg attached to direct, Cline’s smartly self-aware novel is on its way to the big screen, with filming likely to start in the not too distant future.
Last month, Warner Bros. revealed their decision to push RPO’s release date back, giving it a better chance to showcase itself in March of 2018, rather than be swallowed by the sci-fi giant, Star Wars: Episode VIII, in December 2017. The pre-developmental film also added some high-caliber leads recently. with Olivia Cooke (Me Earl and the Dying Girl) signing on to play heroine Art3mis and Ben Mendelsohn (Star Wars: Rogue One) on board as primary villain Nolan Sorrento. Now, it looks like Spielberg has found his Parzival.
Cyber-hero and über-gamer Wade Watts will be portrayed by Tye Sheridan in the upcoming film, according to Deadline. Sheridan has already made his mark in critically successful films like Terrence Malik’s The Tree of Life and Jeff Nichol’s Mud – which won the Robert Altman prize at the Independent Spirit Awards. The young actor also stars as X-Men staple Scott Summers (a.k.a. Cyclops) in the hotly anticipated X-Men: Apocalypse.
As the pivotal character in Ready Player One, the story revolves around Watts, who also goes by his online avatar’s name, Parzival, or Z for short. In the book, Watts lives in a desolate stack of mobile homes along the outskirts of Oklahoma City. Like his fellow citizens, the dismal shape of the planet has led most humans into the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe modeled after today’s MMOs. His quest for OASIS creator James Halliday’s Egg – and control of his vast fortune as well as the OASIS – puts him head-to-head with co-gunters (egg hunters) like Art3mis, as well as corporate overlord Sorrento, who seeks to privatize the otherwise free virtual world.
Sheridan is an excellent choice for the role of Wade Owen Watts. His recent role as a nebbish Boy Scout devotee in Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is good acting fodder for playing an online gamer who’s more comfortable in a virtual world than an outside one. His youthful appearance will also serve him well, since much like his Scouts Guide role, Wade Watts is still in high school. In addition, Sheridan showed his versatility as an actor in Mud, playing a teen coming to grips with adulthood and its confusing set of emotions, something which will prove helpful when faced with the similar coming-of-age themes in Ready Player One.
Portraying a realistic character inside a virtual world won’t be easy either. Since the OASIS is entirely computer generated, much of Ready Player One will likely be shot against a green screen. Fortunately, Sheridan’s role as Cyclops likely put him through heavy green screen work. It will be interesting to see how Sheridan matches wits both with Cooke and Medelsohn under Spielberg’s skilled direction.
Ready Player One will hit theaters March 30, 2018.