Olivia Cooke, who starred in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, has nabbed the female lead in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One and is in negotiations.
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow are behind the movie, which adapts the best-selling sci-fi novel by Ernie Cline, and is in the thick of searching for its stars.
The story is set in a virtual world called Oasis, in which a teenager finds himself competing in a treasure hunt against ruthless foes after the game’s founder dies and offers his fortune as the grand prize.
Spielberg has been reading actors in Los Angeles and New York with the hope of finding both the male and female leads at the same time. That hasn’t happened and the hunt for the male continues, though Cooke rose to the top after tests that included Elle Fanning and Lola Kirke (Mozart in the Jungle, Gone Girl).
If a deal is made, Cooke would play the teen’s love interest and competitor, a Canadian blogger named Sam whose name in the virtual world is Art3mis.
Warners had no comment, and calls to Cooke’s representatives, Gersh and Luber Roklin Entertainment, were not immediately returned.
Spielberg is producing with Donald De Line, Kristie Macosko Krieger and Dan Farah.
The role is major breakthrough for Cooke, a rising talent who’s been working mostly in the indie world, while also appearing on A&E’s Bates Motel. She received a big career boost with Dying Girl, the indie that won the Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and was picked up Fox Searchlight.
While the movie wasn’t the hit the studio hoped for, it lifted Cooke’s profile as one of the key actresses of the new generation. Not only did it put her into contention for Spielberg’s latest tentpole, but her name has surfaced as being on the shortlist for one of the Star Wars movies.