Meet the young geeks who comprise the High Five in Steven Spielberg’s epic sci-fi adventure Ready Player One – Wade/Parzival, Samantha/Art3mis, Helen/Aech, Toshiro/Daito and Zhou/Sho.
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.
The quest becomes much more than a treasure hunt, as Wade and his friends, collectively called the High Five, come to discover there is something more important than money at stake.
Wade/Parzival. Wade’s a smart but somewhat disenfranchised young man who is in a very unhappy place in his life: his parents have died and he’s living with his aunt and her current boyfriend in a rundown vertical trailer park called the Stacks. His only personal satisfaction comes in trying to win Halliday’s contest in the OASIS. Once in the OASIS, Wade disappears into his avatar, Parzival, a name inspired by the knight who found the Holy Grail.
Helen/Aech. Parzival’s closest, and distinctly largest, friend is the towering Aech, whom Lena Waithe identifies as “part human, part machine. He’s got huge muscles, but he’s also very chill, just super cool. Aech is well known in the OASIS as a top-rated mechanic who can build or fix just about anything. It’s just an awesome persona that my character created for herself, but at the same time she knows she is keeping something from her best friend.”
Samantha/Art3mis. Named for the Greek goddess of the hunt, Art3mis is something of a legend for her kickass style of play. “Art3mis is tough, fearless and very driven, so she seems a bit cutthroat in that sense,” says Olivia Cooke, who stars as Art3mis and her real-world alter ego, Samantha. “But her reasons for competing are different from the other Gunters. She knows from personal experience the terrible things that will happen if IOI takes sole control of the OASIS, so she wants to win for the greater good.”
Toshiro/Daito. Win Morisaki plays Daito, a powerful Japanese Samurai warrior who is supremely skilled with a sword and in martial arts. He is the avatar of a very zen young man named Toshiro. Morisaki remembers, “I auditioned in Japan and then came to Los Angeles to meet Steven. When they told me I got the part, I couldn’t believe it. It’s my first international film and it’s so exciting.”
Zhou/Sho. Newcomer Philip Zhao plays the role of Sho, a tough ninja fighter, whose real-world name is Zhou and whose age comes as a surprise to his friends. The young actor won the role over hundreds of other young hopefuls in an open casting call when his father sent in a video of him in action. Zhao says, “Sho is a sassy 11 year old who hates being judged by his age. He looks up to Daito and tries to act like an adult because he’s hiding his true identity.” With courage and maturity that belie his youth, Zhou more than gains the respect of his peers.
“For me, it’s always great to work with young actors, so I had the most fun casting Tye, Olivia, Lena, Win and Philip,” Spielberg says. “They were able to take their characters and make them into something even beyond what’s on the page, and that’s always what I look for.”
In Philippine cinemas Black Saturday, March 31, Ready Player One is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.