I was lucky enough at Comic-Con to meet Ernie Cline, the fantastic screenwriter of the hilarious movie Fanboys!! If you are as much a Star Wars fan as I am, you’ll love every second of this movie and it has a cameo with Carrie Fisher!!! How can you go wrong? And now Ernie has his first novel coming out, Ready Player One. I just finished the book last week and I was hooked from the first page to the last, no joke. It is a suspenseful cyberspace roller coaster read perfect for geeks!! Check out the New York Times review of his book too!
Here’s the book synopsis via Deadline:
A teenager named Wade Watts escapes his bleak surrounds by logging into Oasis, a globally networked virtual utopia where users lead idyllic alternate lives. When the game’s eccentric billionaire creator dies, he offers up his fortune as the prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Watts is pitted against powerful corporate foes and ruthless competitors who’ll do anything, in the Oasis and real world, to reach the treasure first.
I interviewed Ernie about his new book, Star Wars, video games and his DeLorean!
LW: Ok first off, I LOVE the movie Fanboys! It is so damn funny! How were you able to get your script from your desk all the way to Hollywood?
EC: I originally intended for Fanboys to be an ultra-low-budget indie film that I planned to shoot here in Austin. I wrote a part in the script for Harry Knowles to play himself, then gave him the script to see if he’d agree to be in it. Harry really loved my script and posted a glowing review of it on his website, which is read by everyone who works in Hollywood. Harry’s review got the attention of a young producer who tracked me down and optioned the script. It took several more years after that, but eventually the movie was bought and produced by the Weinstein Company. It was a long, strange journey.
LW: Did you ever get to meet George Lucas? If yes, How was it? How did you get him to let you film at his Skywalker Ranch? That was most impressive!
EC: I did have the opportunity to meet George Lucas, at the Clone Wars movie premiere his daughter invited me to. But I decided not to introduce myself, because I was worried I might totally geeking out on him. I did that when I met William Shatner on the set of Fanboys and learned my lesson. It’s best for me not to meet my idols.
But George couldn’t have been more generous to our production. Once Lucasfilm gave us permission to use the Star Wars license in our movie, they were incredibly cooperative, and gave us nearly everything we asked for. Not only did they let us film at Skywalker Ranch, we also got to use original Star Wars sound effects in our movie, right from the Lucasfilm archives. It was amazing.
LW: You have a new book coming out, Ready Player One, which I just finished and loved. It was so suspenseful! What was the inspiration behind this book?
EC: Well, it’s my first novel, so it’s sort of inspired by my entire life. But I think the initial inspiration was this strange idea I had: What if Willie Wonka had been a video game designer, and he held the greatest video game contest of all time inside the virtual reality he’d created. Everything else grew out of that initial idea.
LW: And I hear that Ready Player One is already optioned as a film? How did that happen?
EC: It happened the day after I sold the book rights to Random House in a bidding war. That was most exciting 48 hours of my life. Hollywood has “book scouts” who keep a close eye on new titles in the publishing world, and when news of the bidding war over Ready Player One reached the studios, that started a bidding war over the film rights to the book. It was crazy, and the absolute last thing I ever expected to happen.
LW: I see that you’re also going to write the screenplay for the movie, congrats! Do you think it will be hard turning your book into a screenplay, will you have to edit any scenes?
EC: Thank you! I’ve actually already written the first draft of the screenplay, and it was incredibly hard. I did have to change the whole structure of the story and make several big changes, just due to the differences in the two mediums. The process ended up being really rewarding, though, and I got to write my first screenplay for Warner Bros., which was a lifelong dream of mine.
LW: There are a lot of 80’s pop-culture references trickled throughout this book. How much 80’s memorabilia do you own? Be honest! What are some of your favorite pieces?
EC: Well, until recently I was never much a memorabilia collector, aside from owning all of my favorite 80s movies on DVD and Blue-Ray. But after I sold my book, I bought my dream car, which also happens to be the coolest piece of 80s memorabilia imaginable: a 1982 DeLorean, complete with Flux Capacitor. It’s the ultimate nerdmobile.
LW: I love the part where Parzival plays Pac-Man for hours and hours, I won’t give anything else away. What’s your favorite video game to play and have you ever finished it?
EC: I love all of the games mentioned in the book, but my all-time favorite video game is probably Black Tiger. I used to be able to finish it on one quarter.
LW: I couldn’t help but notice on page 42 where the character I-roK says that Star Wars is “so played out.” Where do you think Star Wars will be in 2044?
EC: I think the Star Wars universe will still be going strong. In the book, I actually predict that the Star Wars universe will be recreated inside a stunningly realistic virtual reality, so people will be able to visit their favorite planets from the Star Wars movies, or hang out with their favorite characters. How cool would that be?
LW: One of the themes present in Ready Player One is this dichotomy between the virtual world and the real world. the character Halliday says “I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with people there.” What are your thoughts on that in the future with social media on the rise and everyone having some type of virtual presence?
EC: I find it fascinating that we’ve created this amazing global communications network that allows people all over the world to communicate with each other, all the time, and yet somehow it’s only ended up isolating us all from one another even further. We all spend our time staring at smartphone screens, while we ignore the real people around us. In my book, I tried to explore what might happen if this trend continues, and most of humanity retreats into a technological fantasy world and abandons the real world entirely.
LW: With the lack of privacy online now and everyone googling and facebooking each other before they meet, what does the future look like and how do you think relationships will form and stay formed in that environment?
EC: It’s hard to say. I’ve met a lot of amazing people online, who also became close friends once I met them in real life. The Internet can be an amazing tool for connecting and collaborating with other like-minded people, regardless of their geographic location. I still have high hopes that the Internet will evolve and eventually erase our imaginary political borders and unite the people of planet Earth as one species, with a common goal. Or we may all just end up live-tweeting the collapse of human civilization. But I’m hoping for the former scenario.
Ready Player One comes out today and is available at Amazon.com! You will not be disappointed and it may even give you crazy dreams if you’re lucky!