During the 15 minutes I had with Orson Scott Card, I heard a lot of great and promising things from the author about next year's Ender's Game movie. While he did warn me in advance that there wasn't too much he could say about the film (he was only on the set once), while talking to him, I could definitely tell he was enthusiastic about the project and things to come.
Behind the Scenes: Cast
After we finished discussing Earth Unaware, the conversation quickly shifted to the movie, namely the story's characters and the actors portraying them.
|OSC with Leah and Heather from Smart Pop Books|
I asked Card if he was allowed to talk about his role or his line in the film:
"I was on the set one time, I was there to record one line. It's a scene between Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield. They're traveling to Eros after the whole Battle School thing is over. I'm just the voice of the pilot saying we're approaching the [dock], we're coming in. But it's fun to have my voice there. The nice thing is that I was given a chance to sit in on the set with them in the same room, just off frame, and say my line while they were doing it [the scene]," he said, adding that he also did a separate recording in a sound room multiple times, so it's hard to be sure which version will actually make it into the movie.
Card spent some time telling me about watching Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield interact on set, explaining that the pair would work out different ways to approach each take so that by the end of the day, the editors had a variety of options when cutting scenes.
"I had no idea this was one of the ways to work," Card said, continuing, "I've seen other scenes shooting and it wasn't like that. Ford is a wonderful - he's a generous actor with other actors."
There is something about Harrison Ford, isn't there? Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Blade Runner: he's in so many iconic movies. Speaking for myself, learning that Ford had signed onto the Ender's Game franchise somehow solidified the thing, made it real: They're actually making this into a movie and taking it seriously, because Harrison Ford is in it.
It's easy to see that Card also holds Ford in considerable respect.
"I got to sit there and watch how Harrison Ford works with other actors and the director," Card said, elaborating almost immediately, "You know, we look at him as a personality and people say 'Well he's not really acting, he's just being himself.' First of all, he's not being himself. Himself is a very quiet and reserved man. So that charm - that's Harrison Ford's persona, he's acting. But he's so believable that you think it's him. Now, when you look at actors and you think, 'Wow what a great actor!' chances are he's a terrible actor because you saw him acting. But when you see somebody and you go, 'Well, he wasn't even acting,' that's a good actor. And that's Harrison Ford. So he's wonderful and he's doing a great job."
Not to worry, we didn't talk exclusively about Harrison Ford! Eventually, we got down to the nitty gritty questions, the kind of questions that have been floating around the internet since it first got wind of an Ender's Game movie. Does Card care about the movie coming out? Will it still be any good even if Card was only on set once? What are his hopes for the movie?
Card summed up his feelings pretty well in one sentence: "What we have a chance for is a really great movie based on Ender's Game."
He's definitely excited about it. He seems almost like all other fans of the book - very curious to see how Gavin Hood takes a story rich in characters and plot and creates a visual world to represent it. That he happens to also be the creator of the story doesn't seem to change anything for him:
"What we all have to be prepared for is... Gavin read the book, loved the book, and then wrote the script. [...] What you're getting here is like somebody going 'Let's reboot Ironman!' or 'Let's do a Batman reboot!' Think of this as an Ender's Game reboot. And that'll be fine. It could be really wonderful. What I hope is, I hope people will come with an open mind and will accept Gavin's version of the story. I hope they're excited about it. I hope they enjoy it. I hope it's a great film. It certainly has the cast to be a fantastic movie."
The Battle Room
Card was most excited to talk to me about the Battle Room scenes. We had to make it quick as we were running out of time, but the way he described the room and the kids' maneuvering around it made me really excited too, especially when he explained how all the kids were actually up on wires and had to learn how to work within null gravity - something completely new and foreign to all of them!
"What they [the battle school kids] bonded over was the agony of learning how to fly in the battle room," Card told me, clearly amused. "That was - they were all equals. Nobody got to be the star who didn't have to do it. Everybody was up there doing the wire work. They were all equal there."
As we were wrapping up and beginning to head our separate ways, Card called out to add some comments about the Battle Room and the remarkable way the professionals working on the sets and effects worked within the room, raving:
"I've got to say, the people who are doing the wire work, who are doing all of the 3D stuff, the special effects flying and null gravity, brilliant. They have really - I've seen the results. I've seen the results and it's way better than computer animation. Hitting the walls would have been terrible. These guys have found a way and I've seen it... and It. Looks. Perfect."
It was perhaps the last thing Card said as I was walking away that will give even the biggest skeptics an inkling of hope:
"So many things will be absolutely wonderful about this movie!"
And I think he may be right.