LOS ANGELES: How to describe “Ready Player One” to those who haven’t encountered the book or heard of it before? It’s a Willy Wonka meets The Matrix story flavored with ‘80s trivia, written by Ernest Cline and brought to the big screen by Steven Spielberg.
The year is 2045, and to escape a humdrum, close to meaningless existence, people check themselves into the “Oasis”—a virtual world where the possibilities are way more endless. Wade Watts aka “Parzival” goes on a treasure hunt set up by the creator of the Oasis.
What’s a quest without its villains? Getting in the way of Wade are Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) and i-R0k (TJ Miller).
You’ve seen Mendelsohn before as Krennic in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” He was also King George to Gary Oldman’s Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.” Not to mention he’ll be the Sheriff of Nottingham in the new “Robin Hood” film and in the upcoming “Captain Marvel” film.
I got a chance to be in the same room with the cast and writers of “Ready Player One” and I got to ask them a few questions.
On his first meeting with Steven Spielberg, Ben shares, “I got called up to see the boss. I got very excited and nervous; I found it hard to look at him in the eye. Eventually, he warmed up and he said, ‘Be evil for me’ and there I was. ‘But evil that we can understand, Ben. Be a corporate evil; be a necessary evil. Be an evil of consumption and you’ll have TJ Miller by your side’.”
At this point, we could overhear the noise from the press con next door at which Ben looked in their direction and said: “Quiet in that other room or I will come and show you my evil!”
According to Ernest Cline, “On the set after every take, Ben will like break into song when they’re setting up another shot. It’s beautiful, he’s been crooning us all day today. That’s how Ben relaxes he sings a little tune between each take.”
Ben concedes, “True that. I may have busted out the theme (from Star Wars) at one point, when I needed to reinforce myself. Otherwise its more Frankie Laine era early early stuff.”
He also reacted to my comment on the use of “Tom Sawyer” by the band Rush for one of the film.
He turned to Ernest Cline and went, “I do know Rush stuff very well did you ever listen to La Villa Strangiato? While you worked? I can play Hemispheres all day I love that.”
TJ Miller who we’ve seen as Elrich Bachman on HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” and who’ll be reprising his role as Weasel in the upcoming movie had this to say about pop culture: “I have theory that culture ended in the 1980’s because that was the beginning of sampling and remixing, and so suddenly we already had the building blocks to create new culture, we didn’t need to invent anything necessarily new.”
He calls Ready Player One the Ultimate ‘80s Remix.”
Tye Sheridan who plays Parzival is a huge fan of the Iron Giant and was so happy it is one of the bigger Easter Eggs in the film. TJ Miller had his own pinnacle of happiness making the film: “I loved Star Wars growing up, and so my kind of ‘Iron Giant’ moment is: I realize iR0k is kind of this bounty hunter, and that he would look up to the greatest bounty hunter in all of science fiction which is Boba Fett, and so in the film I do an impersonation of Boba Fett which is both the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever done. Because he only says like five lines in the entire trilogy.”
Ready Player One opens on Black Saturday. The pop culture fans, especially of the ‘80s will enjoy the Easter Eggs—so perfect for the holiday. And if you need more Iron Giants, the sequel to Pacific Rim, “Pacific Rim: Uprising” opens as well.