From filmmaker Steven Spielberg and adapted from the book by Ernest Cline, the sci-fi action adventure epic Ready Player One is set in the year 2045 and follows Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), as he escapes real life inside of the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where most of humanity spends their days, living as any avatar they so choose and with only your own imagination as a limitation. When the OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance), he embedded a three-part contest into it to find a worthy heir for his immense fortune and total control of this virtual world, and as Wade and his friends, called the High Five, take on the challenge, they put themselves directly into the path of danger.
At the film’s Los Angeles press day, Collider got the opportunity to sit down with actor Tye Sheridan (who plays High Five member Parzival, aka Wade Watts) to chat 1-on-1 about what he would want his own avatar to look like, when he finally saw the avatar for his Ready Player One character, what he thought about getting to see himself in action in the OASIS, why every day was the most fun day on set, the messages in the story, and what his family thought of the film. He also talked about the tone and approach to X-Men: Dark Phoenix, in which he plays Cyclops, and why he’s so excited about it.
Collider: This movie is so much fun! It must be really cool to get to do a movie where you’re doing pretty much every genre in one movie.
TYE SHERIDAN: Totally! I think this movie had the potential of being something that felt all over the place. Honestly, that was probably one of the greatest challenges that Steven [Spielberg] and Zak [Penn] and Ernie [Cline] had. Putting those guys together and figuring out how to deliver this story and navigate it in such a way that it doesn’t feel like that is so amazing to me. What they’ve accomplished in this film is just beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined that it would be. It’s everything I hoped it would be, and more.
We get to see what your character creates for his avatar, but if you had the opportunity to create any avatar for yourself that you wanted, what would it look like?
SHERIDAN: It’s hard to say what I would want to be. I think I would definitely want to be something different.
Would you want to be something not human?
SHERIDAN: Yeah, for sure! Why not? At least for a bit, until you want to change up your avatar. I don’t know. If I could be any avatar and go into a social virtual space, I think I would try to be my avatar from Ready Player One ‘cause why not? He’s already got the windy hair.
When did you first get to see what your avatar looked like, and does it ever not get surreal to look at it?
SHERIDAN: That’s a good question. Even when we were shooting, there was a version of Aech, Sho, Daito and Art3mis, even though that changed slightly. All of those avatars were not totally finalized, but were very, very close to what they are in the film, when we were shooting the movie. In real time, when we were shooting the motion capture and we were inside the Volume and they had us synced up to our avatars, we could see ourselves driving our avatars on a 2D screen. We could see them walking around in the environments that they would be walking around in, in the film, except for my avatar. I had the Parzival outfit and the hair, but my face was very human. It was basically my face. My avatar was the last to be finalized, and I didn’t see him until in December. I actually saw him the first time everybody else saw him, in the second trailer that came out. I was in Brazil, when we were shown the second trailer, and I was looking up at a screen like, “Oh, that’s the avatar. I can’t really see what he looks like from here, but I guess he’s cool.” It was challenging because they were trying to find the balance between human and something else. I think the idea was to have him be the most human, out of all of them, but they didn’t want him to be associated as human.
A lot of actors say that it’s hard to watch themselves on a big screen. Is it easier when you’re watching your avatar instead?
SHERIDAN: Since I was a kid, I’ve always been obsessed with animation. Animation is really one of the only genres, where I feel like I can watch a movie and think about it, mindlessly, or not watch it as someone who works in film. I can watch it, objectively. This film has that element. As an actor, I always wondered what it would be like to watch an animated character with your voice behind it, and see if it seems seamless or if it seems like your voice is isolated from the animation. With this, the first time watching it, I was like, “Wow, that’s interesting.” It took me a second, and then I just completely forgot that this character was animated and it was my voice. It was much easier for me to watch it, objectively, because it has elements of me, but he doesn’t look like me. That was very cool, and super exciting.