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 Olivia Cooke (who plays High Five member Art3mis, aka Samantha) to chat 1-on-1 about what she would want her own avatar to look like, what she thought of her character’s avatar, the coolest stuff she got to do on the film, acting with the motion capture gear, and how long it took her to get over the novelty of working with Steven Spielberg. She also talked about working with Dan Fogelman on Life Itself, how meticulous she is about choosing which projects she’ll sign on for, and what her next film will be.
Collider: In this film, your character gets to create her own avatar. If you could create your own avatar, what would you want it to be, and it doesn’t even have to be human?
OLIVIA COOKE: I think I’d want to be part-bird, part-fish. I’d never have to put my feet on the ground, but I’d be able to swim lengths and be able to fly above the treetops. I don’t know if it would necessarily be human, but it would be a part fish/mermaid/winged thing, maybe with long, flowy hair.
That sounds totally awesome!
When did you first get to see what your avatar looked like, and have you gotten used to looking at what your avatar looks like, or does it feel really surreal?
COOKE: I first saw it really early on, when I was going into costume fittings for the film. Kasia [Walicka-Maimone], the costumer, wanted to get my input on what my avatar’s costume would be like, so she had some mock-ups and drawings of what my face and hair was gonna be like. I was with it for quite a few months, before we started filming, and then, what they’ve done with the animation of it and how the motion-capture has translated through that, and how, apart from my eyes, which are these huge anime eyes, the bottom half of my face, you can completely tell it’s me, with my mannerisms. Steven [Spielberg] said it was really fun working on my mouth because I’ve got quite a crooked smile and it holds a lot of emotion there, and you can always tell what I’m thinking with the way I hold my mouth, apparently. So, he had a lot of fun getting that right. I felt sorry for him having to spend that much time, just looking at passes of me. It’s really bizarre because you feel like you’ve been immortalized, in a way.
A lot of actors talk about how hard it is to watch themselves on screen. Is it easier to watch yourself, as an avatar?
COOKE: I think the avatar is a better actor than me. Digitally, I’m sure, if there’s anything that was a bit off with my performance, they can tweak, here and there, and then it’s great. So, I think she’s a much better actor than I am.
It seems like you got to do so much fun, crazy, cool stuff for this. What was the coolest thing?
COOKE: When my character is in IOI, in Nolan Sorrento’s office, having my Indiana Jones moment, infiltrating this corporate company and trying to find something. It just felt like pure Speilbergian adventure, and I was getting to do all these really cool things, running around trying to solve clues and also feeding back to my friends, who were somewhere else. It felt, altogether, like a huge espionage thriller and adventure. Being able to live in this mode of pure suspense, it was really, really cool. I’ve never been able to do anything like that.
It seems like you got to do pretty much every genre in this one movie.
COOKE: Yeah! It’s such a feast.