When Steven Spielberg is at the helm of a movie, there’s not going to be any shortage of actors lining up to work him. Such is the case with his next project, an adaptation of Ernest Cline’s pop culture-saturated novel Ready Player One, which has whittled down a shortlist of three names and has now found its female lead: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl star Olivia Cooke.

According The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow have their eye on the 21-year-old actress, and they are in negotiations. If they go well, and you have to imagine if they want her, they can probably make something happen, Cooke will play the character of Art3mis. Recently, Cooke was among a trio of names the production was reportedly looking at that made the rounds, and she apparently beat out Elle Fanning (Maleficent) and Lola Kirke (Gone Girl) for the part.

Ready Player One is going to be a tricky movie to film. Cline’s bestselling novel is set in the future that sucks so bad that people live in what are essentially skyscrapers made up of mobile homes piled on top of one another, and to escape, everyone jacks into an artificial reality program called OASIS. People go to school and work and socialize here, all using avatars. Before he died, the creator of this world staged an elaborate scavenger hunt, and the winner inherits OASIS, thus becoming the richest, most powerful person in the world.

The story centers around a young man named Wade Watts, one of those looking to solve the puzzle. Art3mis is a virtual friend and ally in his quest that puts them both at odds with huge ruthless corporations who also want to claim OASIS for themselves. The trick is going to be how to stage this without making it feel like watching people play video games. It will also be interesting to see how much of Wade and Art3mis we see in real life, and how much they appear as avatars, as both are quite different, appearance wise.

Olivia Cooke

However it plays out, Cooke is a good choice. She’s won acclaim for her performances on Bates Motel and in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, fronted the board game-based Ouija, and is a fantastic up-and-coming, talented young actor.

This casting could also have big implication for another major movie, Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII. Olivia Cooke was also one of three actresses reported to be on the shortlist for a key female role that film is looking to fill. She was mentioned alongside of Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany and Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez.

Staring in Ready Player One doesn’t automatically preclude Cooke from also joining Episode VIII, but it makes scheduling more difficult. Also, she was kind of the odd-woman-out of the three, as Maslany and Rodriguez are a bit older, both within a year of 30, so perhaps Cooke was a little on the young side for whatever role they are casting.

Steven Spielberg has reportedly been auditioning male and female actors in the hopes of casting both leads at the same time, and if that is the case, perhaps we will find out who is going to play Wade before too much longer. Ready Player One has a tentative release date of December 15, 2017 scheduled.

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