I write this with some trepidation.
This level of progress has completely graduated from wistful speculation and noisy, inept youtube videos depicting personal casting choices for Ender (1999 Jake Lloyd) or Bean (1999 Haley Joel Osment). Giant Freakin Robot reports that as-of-late-curmudgeony Harrison Ford is up for the role of Graff after beating out Viggo Mortensen. This news comes two weeks after the announcement that Hugo’s blue-eyed protagonist was offered the role for Ender Wiggin.
I’m just blindsided by the fact that the Ender’s Game Movie is finally in production. I’ve been waiting since high school, but have muted my support because there’s no way any movie or actor could do the story justice– especially since a majority of the poignancy from the book stems from internal monologue or narration and tactical meditation. Some things just won’t translate well at all: the absolute violence and hardship, Peter’s manipulative cruelty, Alai’s close physical relationship, or Ender’s empathy for the buggers in the strange dreams / VR games.
This is the face of the Hollywood Ender. His name is Asa Butterfield and apparently he has a lot of talent. I think what is most striking is his icy blue gaze. Something about him is a bit more… ethnic than I pictured for the role of Ender. Everyone’s mental image of Ender is a little different, I suppose, but I will have to watch him closely in Hugo to see any inklings of a tormented, resolute and precocious savior. Acting can overcome pre-conceived notions. It would take a Harry Potter budget to make perfect casting choices, and I don’t think they have it, but I also refuse to make do with limited resources. Not that I have much say in the matter.
Whoever the other actors are, they have to be absolutely phenomenal for this to work: Valentine, Bean, Bonzo, and even Peter and the adults. Every role is vital. Even more so if they expect to continue the story. I wonder if A War of Gifts will be included. OSC is cryptically mute on the matter, having left the scripting to other forces while he churns out new books and projects on his own. 2012 is a long time from 1985, and I’m not sure his modern mental map is aligned with the current generation of Ender fans anyway. (I still respect him as a writer, no matter his politics.)
Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit is apparently in talks for what Variety calls the “lead female role” as Petra Arkanian. I like Petra with all her snark and survival ingenuity.
It makes me sad to think such a cult phenomenon like the Ender Saga could be bartered off to actors who may not appreciate its worth. Maybe it’ll be just fine: the Harry Potter cast did not read the books prior to landing their roles and they performed splendidly. Let us pray this goes just as well.
Oh, and that Harrison Ford makes the cut, because no matter his role, no matter his age, that man is pure gold and a card of redemption for practically every deck.
Update: Asa has confirmed himself for the role and the movie is set to hit theaters March 15, 2013.