When you’re a director with the reputation and stature of Steven Spielberg, you have a tendency to attract top-tier talent to your movies, no matter what they are. Who doesn’t want to work with Steven Spielberg? And that effect is only enhanced when he works on adapting a beloved book, like he is now, bringing Ernest Cline’s best-selling fan-favorite novel Ready Player One to the big screen. He’s already lined up a fantastic cast of actors, but he may have just added one more to the mix, and it’s perfect, as Simon Pegg is in talks to join the party.
Given Simon Pegg’s penchant for all things nerdy and geeky and awesome, it only makes sense that he’d be interested in Ready Player One. Saturated in pop culture like no other book you can imagine, Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel is about as nerdy as things come. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pegg in indeed in negotiations to join Steven Spielberg, and if a deal is indeed struck, he will play the character Ogden Morrow, the co-creator of the in-world virtual reality realm Oasis.
Set in a dystopian future where everything totally sucks and is terrible, characters in Ready Player One jack into Oasis, a virtual reality world where they do everything from go to school, work, and hang out with friends in virtual basements, all to get away from the crappiness that is the real world. The creator of Oasis, James Halliday, was notoriously obsessed with pop culture, especially from the 1980s, and when he died, leaving no heirs, he revealed an intricate scavenger hunt. Whoever happens to solve this puzzle becomes the owner of Oasis, and, as a result, the richest, most powerful person on the planet.
Ogden Morrow is James Halliday’s best friend and the co-creator of Oasis. In a world where people live in literal stacks of mobile homes the height of skyscrapers, he is one of the few wealthy people left. A good-hearted man who lives a reclusive life in Oregon—he’s described as looking like a mixture of Albert Einstein and Santa Claus—he kind of Steve Wozniak to Halliday’s Steve Jobs. The role is not a particularly large one, but it does play a pivotal part in the narrative, and it’s easy to imagine Simon Pegg having a total blast in this role.
X-Men: Apocalypse’s new Cyclops, Tye Sheridan, was recently cast as the Ready Player One movie’s lead, Wade Watts, a poor kid who tries to solve the scavenger hunt. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’s dying girl, Olivia Cooke, has been cast as Ar3mis, one of Wade’s virtual associates, who is, by turns, a friend, a competitor, and a love interest. Star Wars: Rogue One’s villain Ben Mendelsohn has also been cast in a similarly antagonistic role in Ready Player One, as a henchman for the corporate interests that also want control of Oasis for their own nefarious purposes.
The Ready Player One movie recently changed its release date so it doesn’t go head-to-head with Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is probably a smart choice. It is slated to begin production this June and will hit theaters March 30, 2018.