Steven Spielberg is currently hard at work putting together his big screen adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG and adding the finishing touches to Bridge of Spies - but while those movies work their way through post-production, it seems that the gears are already starting to turn on the big screen version of Ernie Cline's Ready Player One. We know this now because a shortlist of actresses vying for a lead role in the sci-fi adventure movie has just been revealed.

The Wrap has the scoop on this development, and while sources say that there are currently five actresses who are considered the top candidates for the female lead, only three are known at this time. Should they be selected, one of them will be playing Art3mis, the famous in-game avatar of a girl named Samantha Cook and ultimately the target of protagonist Wade Watts' affection. So who is Spielberg's casting director, Ellen Lewis, currently looking at? Read on to find out:

Olivia Cooke

If you're getting the feeling of deja vu, it's probably because you just read about Olivia Cooke here on Cinema Blend. That's because the Bates Motel actress is also currently being considered by Disney, Lucasfilm, and director Rian Johnson for the female lead in Star Wars: Episode VIII. Cooke earned a great deal of critical praise for her performance in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl earlier this year, and it seems that buzz is translating to a couple high-profile opportunities. Of course, we have to wonder if doing Star Wars: Episode VIII would mean that she couldn't do Ready Player One, or vice versa - but that's not a decision that will need to be considered until she's actually offered one of the parts.

Elle Fanning

Next on the list is Elle Fanning, who got a nice taste of big blockbuster fare last summer when she starred opposite Angelina Jolie in the fantasy feature Maleficent. She also got a nice taste of Steven Spielberg-esque storytelling when she played the lead role in J.J. Abrams' Spielberg homage Super 8 - but doing Ready Player One would give her the opportunity to be a part of the real deal.

Lola Kirke

British actress Lola Kirke is the third and final name mentioned in the trade report, and while her name isn't quite as big as Olivia Cooke's or Elle Fanning's, she's definitely an up-and-comer who is starting to garner attention. Last year she had a small role in David Fincher's Gone Girl, but most recently she has been earning positive reviews for her performance in Noah Baumbach's Mistress America, which has her starring opposite Greta Gerwig.

Ready Player One is being prepped for release on December 15, 2017, and Steven Spielberg is just a bit busy with other projects at the moment, so it's unclear exactly when we might hear the results of this casting race. Still, the fact that the production is starting to look at actors means that it may not be long before more shortlists are revealed for other key parts. We'll keep you posted.

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