The Ready Player One movie has found its Wade Watts. As Steven Spielberg continues to prep his highly anticipated adaptation of the Ernest Cline novel, the lengthy casting search for the film’s male protagonist has come to an end with Mud and Tree of Life actor Tye Sheridan. Deadline broke the news, and it’s a small wonder we never got a typical casting shortlist for such a high-profile role. Spielberg cast the film’s first role, that of Art3mis, last year with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl standout Olivia Cooke, and the brilliant Ben Mendelsohn subsequently signed on to play the villainous Nolan Sorrento, so Sheridan is in fine company.
The story of 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.
This won’t be Sheridan’s first foray into blockbuster territory, however, as he makes his debut as the young Cyclops in this May’s X-Men: Apocalypse, and he made his feature film debut in Terrence Malick’s masterpiece The Tree of Life, so his resume is not too shabby.
Landing Spielberg was a major coup for Warner Bros. with this project, which many believed would be impossible to actually make due to the bevy of 80s pop culture references. Having Spielberg as your director makes it much easier to get permission to use, say, footage from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or something from Back to the Future.
With the three key roles now set, Spileberg can work on filling the key supporting roles of Aech, Wade’s best friend, Halliday, and Ogden Morrow, the co-creator of OASIS who is essentially a Steve Wozniak type. Though initially slated for release next Christmas, Warner Bros. recently pushed Ready Player One to March 30, 2018 in order to avoid going head to head with Star Wars: Episode VIII. It’s a long time to wait, but with Spielberg taking on a big, colorful blockbuster once again, and with a cast this promising, I’m sure it’ll be well worth it.