Ender’s Game wins the box office must have been music to the ears of director Gavin Hood. Hood was responsible for bringing the beloved sci-fi young adult book to the big screen. Sure, scoring Harrison Ford was a huge coup, but as he told us in our exclusive interview… the key to the success of Ender’s Game is in the casting of the actor who plays the title character.
Hood also dishes the propheticness of the story that, as shown in the Ender’s Game trailer, follows a futuristic world where aliens have attacked the Earth and left us inches from extinction. A hero rises and sends the aliens back to where the came from. But… our leaders are convinced that they will be back. So, they launch a massive offensive training our youngest, who have been raised on video games, to take control of our ships and take the war to the enemy, before they attack us again.
Movie Fanatic: This movie does not work without Asa Butterfield being perfect in the role as Ender. You must have seen hundreds of actors… what was it about him that he was your guy?
Gavin Hood: That's what was terrifying was the search to find the right guy. The script could be good. The effects could be great, but we might as well walk away if the actor playing Ender isn’t right. So, when we found Asa, it was a massive relief. He’s this weird combination of intelligence, kindness and humility and yet he shows guts and a bit of quirkiness. And the thing about all of that is you can’t fake it.
Movie Fanatic: The other thing that is fascinating, and I mentioned it in my Ender’s Game review, is it is hard to believe it is based on a book that is several decades old. Did how prophetic it is strike you immediately?
Gavin Hood: It resonates so much more with us now and I have no idea how the author came up with it. But, it’s been there before. Whether it was dropping the bomb on Hiroshima or Vietnam with us going there so they don’t come here, there’s some version of that for every generation it seems. It’s so much more acute now because now we know how many times we’ve heard this from our leaders. In this war we’re in now, it seems to be going on and on and on with no end, so we’re probably feeling it now more than ever. There’s also an iPad-like thing in the book, and thus the movie. There were no iPads in 1985 when the book came out! It was truly ahead of its time.
Movie Fanatic: As a fan of movies and science fiction, what did it mean to you personally and professionally to work with Harrison Ford, and two, what struck you most about him?
Gavin Hood: You think Harrison Ford for this part, but you send the script out and you just wait, never really thinking he’s going to say yes. I mean, I would say I was looking forward to that moment since I was twelve! He, it turns out, has a 12-year-old son and he responded to the idea of making a film where he could have a conversation with his son about the way that games and reality are starting to merge -- the idea of distancing ourselves from real war because we’re almost playing it as a game. But, in terms of Harrison, once he said yes, what was great was Asa was a little intimidated by him as Harrison, the iconic actor. Harrison was incredibly kind and generous and helping me help Asa. Because I shot in sequence, which I needed to do anyway because Asa grew two inches through the course of filming, it also allowed him and Harrison to not get too close. Gradually, so by the time you got to the ending, and he had to confront him, he was ready and was much less intimidated by him.