Ready Player One is slowly, but surely, making the climb from page to screen, under director Steven Spielberg’s guidance. The surprising success of Ernest Cline’s source novel (and its virtual setting) made it just a matter of time before Hollywood adapted the story for cinema. The project has taken another step on its journey, after having reportedly conducted a search for its female lead.
The role in question - Samantha Evelyn Cook/Art3mis - is one that a handful of promising young stars - including Elle Fanning, sister of Spielberg's War of the Worlds young lead, Dakota Fanning - have reportedly been considered for. However, one of those candidate has now formally enter negotiations to bring the character to life.
THR is reporting that Olivia Cooke has entered proper talks to play Art3mis in Ready Player One. Cooke's standing has only deepened since the release of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl in 2015 (which featured her in a well-received leading role), though for years she's done quality work as Emma on A&E’s Bates Motel TV show. As further proof of that, Cooke has also recently been shortlisted for a lead role in writer/director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII.
If Cooke finalizes a deal for Ready Player One, then it probably means she's out of the running for the Episode VIII role in question - seeing as both projects are big-budget, effects-heavy, sci-fi tentpoles scheduled to open in theaters in 2017. While a role in Star Wars would definitely be worth considering for anyone, a role in a Spielberg movie isn't something you just pass on - and Cooke's involvement with Ready Player One could do as much for her career as Episode VIII.
Cooke is a solid choice for Art3mis in Ready Player One; the character, whom the story's protagonist Watts Wade has a (cyber-)crush on, is a famous Canadian blogger who competes in the same virtual games in OASIS (a virtual reality utopia in Ready Player One's dystopian future setting) as other people her age, like Watts. Cooke's appearance is also more or less in line with Cline's descriptions of Art3mis (or, if you will, Samantha) in the novel, and she has shown an adeptness at a wide range of emotional ability in her performances. Spielberg’s direction should only help, in that regard.
Art3mis acts as both a love interest and a rival for Wade in his quest to find the mysterious Easter egg hidden somewhere within the vast MMORPG world of OASIS. Cooke would bring the necessary depth the character needs to truly shine on screen; that will further help insure that Spielberg's Ready Player One has the same heart as his best previous genre movies - to go along with the (no doubt) shiny visuals and (hopefully) fun action that the filmmaker will aim to serve up.
Ready Player One is scheduled to open in U.S. theaters on December 15th, 2017.