With every subsequent news story on Ready Player One, I continue to try and manage my expectations accordingly given Steven Spielberg’s habit of dropping projects after first committing (I’m looking at you Robopocalypse, American Sniper, Trial of the Chicago 7, etc.). But it really is looking like this is firming up as his next project, and now word arrives that he’s found his first cast member. Per THR, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl breakout and Bates Motel actress Olivia Cooke has been cast as Art3mis, a virtual friend/object of attraction for the story’s hero and the film’s female lead.
Based on Ernie Cline’s bestselling novel, Ready Player One revolves around teenager Wade Watts, a gunter (a portmanteau of egg hunter) who is the first person to discover the first of the three keys left behind by OASIS creator James Halliday. OASIS is a highly valuable, online virtual reality space, and after Halliday’s death a worldwide Easter Egg hunt ensues to find a hidden treasure that gives the discoverer control over OASIS—which, in this dystopian future, means control over the world.
Cooke is one of a number of actresses who tested for the role, including Elle Fanning and Lola Kirke, but it appears that she impressed Spielberg enough to edge out the other contenders. Apparently the hope was to cast the male and female leads at the same time, but that hasn’t happened yet as the search continues for Watts. Cooke is fantastic in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and, having read the book, was my personal choice for Art3mis out of the initial shortlist, so I’m quite happy with this news. Though the question remains how Art3mis and, ultimately, Wade will be portrayed in the film, as they each have OASIS avatars that look different from their true selves.
Ready Player One puts Spielberg back in sci-fi blockbuster territory for the first time in a while, and I’m incredibly interested to see how the self-professed gamer captures the world of Ready Player One onscreen. Spielberg is still in post-production on next summer’s The BFG and has the period thriller Bridge of Spies opening in October, but Warner Bros. has already slated Ready Player One for release on December 15, 2017, so production will likely begin in the first half of next year—assuming Spielberg doesn’t drop out in the interim, that is.