Ben Mendelsohn Plugs In As The Villain Of ‘Ready Player One’

2015 was a great year for formerly under-appreciated, currently appreciated Australian character actor Ben Mendelsohn. After consistently turning in well-formed performances in indies and bit parts, the actor scored big with a high-visibility role on Netflix’s Bloodline that earned him both an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination. At the movies, he pulled a nice one-two punch with the off-kilter Western Slow West in the spring and the breakout gambling drama Mississippi Grind. And with a little traction under him, Mendelsohn’s got no plans to back down any time soon. He’s already secured a role in this fall’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and now a new announcement suggests that 2016 could be even bigger for him.

An exclusive in The Hollywood Reporter notes that Steven Spielberg likes Mendelsohn for the villain role in his upcoming adaptation of sci-fi smash novel Ready Player One. Though negotiations have only just begun and nothing has yet been set in stone, it would seem that Mendelsohn would portray Nolan Sorrento, top brass at the sinister internet service provider (as if there’s any other kind of internet service provider) that supports the digital world known as OASIS in which much of the novel takes place. Chosen-one hero Wade Watts competes with Nolan in the search for a fabled Easter egg hidden within OASIS by its creator, the acquisition of which grants the owner godlike powers. Spielberg’s search for a fitting youngster to portray Wade will continue, but Mendelsohn could be the perfect choice to convey the mixture of arch sophistication and menace the role of Nolan requires.

In related Ready Player One news, Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly that he had no plans to allude to his own films while shooting this upcoming project. The source novel, steeped in ’70s and ’80s nostalgia, makes loads of references to Spielberg’s Indiana Jones pictures, JawsE.T. and others, but Spielberg has no plans to include these in his finished film. “The movie won’t have any of my films in it,” Spielberg said. “I can’t do that. Too self-referential.” Off in the distance, Quentin Tarantino chuckled quietly to himself.