Ender’s Game is a movie that’s been years in the making. We’re at the eve of its release and with that comes heaps of anticipation for the cinematic version of Orson Scott Card’s popular novel. It took a lot of hard work, but none of it would have been possible without the main cast, particularly Ender himself, played by Asa Butterfield. He stars alongside a cool mixture of veteran actors and blossoming youngsters like Hailee Steinfeld.
The quest to find the perfect Ender lasted months, but they eventually found the right actor with Butterfield. He wasn’t too familiar with the source material, but quickly familiarized himself with it.
Asa Butterfield: It really stood out because I’m a huge fan of science fiction and this is definitely one of my favorite scripts at the time. I would be flying around in zero gravity shooting laser guns, what more do you want? When I found out it was a book, I read the book and I loved that. When I met with Gavin [Hood], the director, we talked about the characters and talked about where I wanted to take it. It was really interesting for me to be able to have that much of a discussion about such a complex character.
After casting fell into place, the actors immediately began training. The kids were shipped off to space camp and learned about the wire work they’d have to deal with throughout their shoot. This served as a cool bonding experience, which was great for them because they’d eventually work together as a group:
Asa Butterfield: There was space camp which was a lot of fun. Because of that we got to know each other so well and we really got along and it really comes across in the film as well. Not only that, but we learned how to march and salute and a few of the things you would learn at a military camp. So that was pretty good, getting some of that understanding. It gives you an insight into what the characters were experiencing.
Hailee Steinfeld: We really became really great friends really quickly, which I think is super fun because we had time before we started filming to bond and get to know each other. By the time we started filming this movie we were a team. We were in it together and I think it really shows onscreen. I did go to space camp [but] I actually had sort of an unfair advantage. While the boys all went, I was coming off of [Romeo and Juliet] so I was about a week late. They were already back in New Orleans and I went to space camp. I was on my own so I was able to stay in a hotel at night and eat normal food and they were stuck with the space food and the bunk rooms so that was cool.
The day came when Butterfield, Steinfeld and the rest of the gang met with the likes of Harrison Ford. Since so many know him through his most popular films (Indiana Jones, Star Wars), they were giddy when he first arrived. At the same time Butterfield and Steinfeld learned a lot from the veteran actor:
Asa Butterfield: Working with Harrison, it wasn’t like a verbal agreement but we both understood — since there is this tension between our characters — we had to keep an essence of that relationship in our characters off the screen, which is really poignant. I think a lot of that really helped me develop my character. I wouldn’t say that it was method, but it was definitely a little more in-depth than what I’ve done before.
Miss Steinfeld has dealt with A-list actors before, so her technique continues to grow as she’s exposed to more experienced thespians:
Hailee Steinfeld: Both Jeff [Bridges] and Harrison have just the most incredible work ethics that are so inspiring and so intriguing. With both of them they’ve been doing it for so long that you think, sometimes for me I’ll have a time in a three month shoot where around the third month, the second to last week I’ve got this, you can relax. You know everybody, it’s all good, but with them there’s none of that and they’ve been doing that their entire lives. There’s never a point where they’re sort of relaxed in a way, I guess you can say. They’re always on their game. They’re always giving it 100% and even when the camera is not on them, they’re giving the other actors 100 percent. I think that’s so incredible, given that they’ve been doing it for so long. It’s easy to feel like you’re sort of give out a little bit a couple of weeks in, but I think it’s so incredible the way that they work. They’re two of the most incredible actors and two of the most incredible people.
Enders Game opens in theaters Nov. 1.