Casting is always a difficult proposition, but doubly so when it comes to finding an actor or actress on the younger end of the scale; picking a fledgling young star who doesn’t come across as being too precious, while still being able to sell potentially difficult material. And it’s triply difficult when you’re working from well-established material, with all the preconceived notions that might be in place for an audience. These are the difficulties that director Gavin Hood has been faced with for his new film, “Ender’s Game.”
The filmmaker, who broke out with the Oscar-winning “Tsotsi” before moving into studio territory with “Rendition” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” has been on board the adaptation of the classic science-fiction novel since earlier in the year, but given that the plot revolves around children being trained to become military commanders in a future where Earth is at war with an insectoid race called the Formics, he’s clearly taken some time to get his casting done; not every stage school tyke will work for the material, clearly.
But it seems like Hood’s search might have come to an end, as Deadline reports that the director has offered the lead role of Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin, a bullied young boy who turns out to be a master military strategist, to 14-year-old Asa Butterfield. The young British actor first came to attention as one of the two central boys in tear-jerker “The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas,” but is about to become even more familiar to audiences, with the lead role in Martin Scorsese‘s 3D family flick “Hugo,” which opens next week.
It does seem to only be an offer at this point, but we imagine it’s a pretty tempting offer for Butterfield, as Summit, who acquired the project a while back, are clearly hoping that the film might become a franchise down the line. Whether he’s right for it is another question; we’re not familiar enough with the material to talk about his suitability, but many early reviews of the Scorsese picture have pointed at Butterfield’s performance as problematic. But seeing as Hood directed “Wolverine,” that may be the least of the project’s worries… “Star Trek” writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are producing “Ender’s Game,” and Summit will release it on March 15, 2013.