Master of None co-starstar and Emmy-winning writer Lena Waithe was on a Television Critics Association panel this weekend for her new Showtime series The Chi, which she created. After the panel, /Film was able to ask her about working on the upcoming adaptation of Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name. Waithe appears in the film as a key character and shared how director Steven Spielberg pushed the actors out of their comfort zones in order to get the performances he wanted.
Lena Waithe shares the Ready Player One details on Spielberg’s directing style below.
First of all, for those of you who don’t know what Ready Player One is about, you can watch the trailer, or just read the official synopsis right here:
The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.
So in this movie that takes place in the distant future real world and a virtual world, how does Steven Spielberg pull the performances he needs from his actors?
“He does a really cool trick where, to gets you out of your head when you’re doing a take, he’s like, ‘Do it really fast. Do it as fast as humanly possible,’” Waithe said. “At first I was like, ‘What? Okay, cool. How’s this going to work out?’ But it really worked. It makes you not think about every line and every look and every move. He’s so much about honesty and a real human moment, so he does that little trick to get us out of our heads. It’s a thing that I remembered and I’m going to try to put on my actors as well. Do it really fast.”
The take you see in the finished film may be the fast take, or not. Waithe said they eventually filmed takes at a more moderate pace, but she stands by her fast takes.
“I’ve got to see, because I haven’t seen it yet, but I feel good about those really fast takes because it works,” Waithe said. “It gets me out of my own head.”
IMDb credits Waithe as Aech, a friend of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) in the virtual world, who is actually a woman named Helen Harris in the real world. Waithe could not answer questions about which version of Aech she plays.
“Here’s the thing,” she said. “I can’t comment on that. I can’t comment on what I play, but I was honored to be a part of that movie. I think I’m going to see it soon. I don’t know when. It was the most joyous time of my life. It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of because Steven doesn’t do things small, at all. I think it’s going to be a really fun movie and I can’t wait for everybody to see it.”
Ready Player One is out March 30, 2018.
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