Simon Pegg joins Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' as the Great and Powerful Og
There is no project in development right now that is more avidly followed in my own household than Ready Player One. Toshi, my ten-year-old, read the book last year and since then, he's been utterly obsessed with the notion that is going to be a movie, especially with Steven Spielberg set to direct.
'80s pop culture in general drives Toshi crazy, and I'm fascinated by his love of it. While I understand what drove Ernie Cline to write the book, I am more confused by a ten year old, born in 2005, who experiences nostalgia for an era that ended fifteen years before he was born. My conversations with people who are working on the film say that it was important to Spielberg that he get legal clearances on all of the '80s stuff before he signed his deal to make the film. This is going to a pop culture collision on the order of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but with an even broader reach.
Maybe there's just something irresistible about the basic structure. Set in the year, 2044, the book details a sort of treasure hunt following the death of James Halliday, creator of a massive virtual reality playground called the OASIS. So far, Spielberg hasn't cast Halliday, but he's been filling key roles. Ty Sheridan is Wade Watts, the main character, while Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn have also been cast. Today, Spielberg adds a pretty terrific name to his cast and in a very important role, and I can't wait to call Toshi and tell him so I can hear his reaction.
Much of what we learn about Halliday in the film is through Morrow, who was the public face of the OASIS. He's a wealthy man in an age where no one is wealthy, and "Og" is a beloved media figure because of the way he behaves. Think Albert Einstein and Santa Claus as the same person. He's a pretty important piece of the puzzle, and Pegg seems like a perfect fit. Toshi's already a pretty huge Pegg fan because of his ongoing work in the Mission: Impossible and Star Trek franchises, and this is going to make that even worse. Pegg's become the de facto face of fandom, a living Mary Sue who went from making a wry commentary on pop culture in Spaced to playing a key role in the pop culture with the latest Star Wars film. He's canny casting on Spielberg's part for that reason, but they've also worked together before in The Adventures of Tintin, one of Spielberg's most underrated recent movies. Pegg's always talked about that experience in glowing terms, and it seems like Spielberg must have had a good time as well.
The film recently had its release date pushed back, but it's set to start principal photography in June. I'm as curious about this as I have been about anything Spielberg's made in recent memory, and the idea that he's going straight from Ready Player One into Indiana Jones 5 means we're heading into a pretty nerdy stretch of Spielberg all at once.
Ready Player One arrives in theaters March 30, 2018.