Warner Bros. has chosen Tye Sheridan as America’s next dystopian heartthrob. The lucky 19-year-old has signed on for the role of Wade Watts/Parzival in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of award-winning YA novel Ready Player One.
Though Warner put out a worldwide casting call for the lead role, indicating they might be looking for new talent, they settled on the experienced yet relatively unknown Sheridan. So far his resume includes roles in critically-acclaimed but low-earning films like The Tree of Life and Mud, for which he was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award. He goes mainstream this year as Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse.
Here’s the casting call that’s been online:
WADE WATTS: 18-19 yrs old, male, clean cut with a sense of humor, overweight or underweight. A sincere and passionate player in the Oasis. Not the most confident guy outside the Oasis, but Wade gains boldness & nerve as his worlds collide. He uses his skills & the support of his friends to rise above each challenge.
Ready Player One is set in a future world where society is so depressing that people escape to OASIS, an immersive, virtual-reality universe. When the creator of OASIS dies he sets in motion an easter-egg hunt inside the VR world to determine who will inherit the rights to OASIS and his fortune. Think TRON + Willy Wonka. Watts is an impoverished orphan competing against friends, strangers, and evil corporations to win. The competition requires egg-hunters (called gunters) to delve into decades of pop-culture history.
The novel – written by Ernest Cline, who is assisting Zak Penn (The Avengers, X-Men: The Last Stand) on the screenplay – is a genius mashup of pop-culture references, leaning heavily on the 1980s. One of the interesting developments in creating the film will be learning how Warner negotiates rights to the myriad brands it will need, everything from Back to the Future to the Pepsi Challenge to Firefly. No doubt some references will be cut during scripting to keep costs in check, but signing on Spielberg is a financial coup for Warner as much as an artistic one. He was intimately involved in creating quite a few of the properties, including Indiana Jones and The Goonies, and his vast network of colleagues and supporters is bound to help reel in more interested parties.
Here’s Penguin’s promo for the book, which really seems custom made for 80s babies:
Spielberg has a strong record with good dystopian and sci-fi projects, from film (Minority Report, War of the Worlds, A.I. Artificial Intelligence) to TV (Falling Skies, Extant). His resume is a little lighter on YA properties, though his family entertainment projects are usually solid hits (Jurassic Park, Men in Black). Still, what makes a film YA really, besides the focus on how the plot impacts teens to the exclusion of all else? It’s hard to imagine one of the greatest living directors isn’t up to that task.
Ready Player One will also star Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) as Samantha Cooke/Art3mis, another gunter and love interest for Watts, and Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) as Nolan Sorrento, a higher-up at a multinational corporation also competing for the eggs. With The Hunger Games series now wrapped, and the Divergent and Maze Runner trilogies both on their last films, Ready Player One will come out in March 2018, just in time to save dystopian fans from utter boredom.
Remember to catch Sheridan in X:Men Apocalypse on March 27.