Ready Player One Just Found Its Lead

An adaptation of Ernest Cline’s geeky, pop culture drenched novel Ready Player One is finally rolling. Helmed by the one, the only, Steven Spielberg, it has been putting together a fantastic cast, minus one key piece: hero Wade Watts. That key part of the equation was missing, until now, and it appears that Spielberg and company have found an ideal fit for the lead.

With eye-catching roles in indie films like Mud, Joe, and The Stanford Prison Experiment, and the fact that he plays Scott Summers/Cyclops in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse, Tye Sheridan has had a meteoric rise as of late. And now Deadline reports that the 19-year-old actor has landed the lead role in Ready Player One and will play Wade Watts.

As you probably inferred if you’re not familiar with the novel, Wade Watts is the protagonist of Ready Player One. He’s a poor kid who lives in a literal stack of mobile homes in a dystopian near future. In this particular iteration of the what lies ahead for humanity, most of the population jacks in daily to a virtual reality world called Oasis, where they do everything from work and go to school to hang out with friends in digital basement crash pads to escape the crushing depression of their reality.

The creator of Oasis died without leaving any heirs, but he did assemble an elaborate, in-world puzzle, a kind of sprawling scavenger hunt, and whoever solves the pop culture infused riddle wins Oasis and instantly becomes the richest, most powerful person on the planet. Wade is one of the people hunting through the virtual realm for clues.

Tye Sheridan joins a cast that already includes fellow up-and-comer Olivia Cooke (Ouija, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), who plays Ar3mis, Wade’s competitor, friend, ally, and love interest by turns. Ben Mendelsohn, who will show up later this year in Star Wars: Rogue One, has also been cast to play the villain, reportedly an executive for an internet company who is also on the case and vying for control of Oasis, for obvious reasons.

First published in 2011, Ernest Cline’s novel, which already had a movie deal in place before it hit bookshelves, became a huge cult hit. It will be super interesting to see what Ready Player One looks like when it finally hits the big screen. For one, most of the action is set in a virtual reality world where the characters control avatars, which sounds tricky to adapt. Secondly, damn near every sentence references some pop culture artifact that plays a key role, and as such, there are hundreds if not thousands of rights that will need to be cleared. That could be a pain in the ass to work around, not to mention expensive. Steven Spielberg has already said that they’re removing any references to his own work.

Ready Player One recently moved its release date so it won’t go up against Star Wars: Episode VIII at the box office, which his probably a smart choice. It will now be in cinemas on March 30, 2018.