Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One" is ramping up its publicity tour, which began with solid buzz after a SXSW premiere of the film and continued Thursday with the movie's first press conference.
Starring Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke, the futuristic film revolves around a group of teenagers on a virtual egg hunt with major real world ramifications. Filled with pop culture references to the '80s and '90s -- including a few of Spielberg's own past projects -- it's a movie that's sure to end up on everyone's radar.
Spielberg was joined at Thursday's press event by stars Sheridan, Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, Hannah John-Kamen, writers Zak Penn and Donald De Line and author Ernest Cline.
We'll keep updating this page throughout the press conference, so be sure to refresh! Watch a just released trailer for the film -- featuring the T-Rex from "Jurassic Park," the Iron Giant and more -- below:
Why Spielberg Signed up
The director admitted the book has "seven movies in it, maybe 12," but he was attracted by the "cautionary tale" that existed within it. "Do we want to exist in reality or do we want to exist in an escapist universe? Those themes were so profound to me," he said.
"For me this film was my great escape, my great escape movie," he added. "This was a film for me, fulfilled all of my fantasies. I got to live this for three years. It was amazing. But I came back to earth a few times, I made 'Bridge of Spies' and 'The Post' while I made 'Ready Player One.' It's a great feeling, but it also makes my wife and kids kind of crazy. They don't know which dad they're gonna get."
Some Things Need to Remain a Secret
There's one horror movie set piece in the film referencing one of the scariest films ever, but Spielberg doesn't want that surprise ruined just yet.
When one reporter asked about the specifics of the sequence, he played coy. "I don't want to talk too much about it. I want people to experience it for themselves and honor some of the Easter eggs," he said. "That for me is a post-release question that I would love to answer."
And trust us, it's amazing.
The Cast Was Really In the OASIS
During filming, the cast members used Oculus goggles to see what was going on around their characters.
"We made the movie in an abstract set," Spielberg explained. "We all had virtual reality Oculus goggles. Inside the goggles was a complete build of the set, but when you took the goggles off, it was a white space. It was really an out of body experience to make the movie."
"We lived in our own imagination for 5 months," said Cooke. "To be able to rely on our guts, that's what made it so special."
"When we got to live action it was like, [sigh of relief]," joked Sheridan.
Who Said No
The movie is packed with pop culture references ranging from the killer Chucky doll to Halo characters, but Spielberg and the Warner Bros. crew couldn't get the rights to everything they wanted.
"We couldn't get any 'Star Wars' rights," said Spielberg. Mendelsohn, who appeared in "Rogue One," joked, "You could have called me on that one, Steve!"
Spielberg said it took about three years to get all the rights they needed for everything that did make it into the final cut. It was also revealed that the spaceship from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was nixed by the director himself.
Reflecting on what Easter eggs were their favorite in the movie, Lena Waithe said she had a blast playing a character who used Chucky "as a weapon."
"For me, it was the Iron Giant," said Tye. "That was a movie I played so many times in my childhood. I had a sentimental connection to that figure. We could see our avatars in real time on a 2D screen, I could look over and see my avatar and Iron Giant's foot."
Spielberg said he considers "Iron Giant" director Brad Bird "a genius" and wanted to honor him with that character.
"I really relished getting to learn the 'Saturday Night Fever' dance," added Cooke. "Tye and I got really close in dance lessons, that was really fun." Sheridan joked, "all of my dancing is digital".
For Mendelsohn, he loved seeing "Freddy [Krueger] getting blown away early on" in the film.
While some characters from his own past films get a digital upgrade in "Ready Player One," Spielberg said he'll never go back and tweak any of his own movies. Why? Blame the anniversary edition of "E.T.," which included a few enhanced shots not in the original film, a la the re-release of the original "Star Wars" films.
"There's a really bad version of E.T." he said. "I did a few touchups and in those days social media wasn't as profound. [Critics said] 'How could you ruin our childhood film?' I learned a big lesson and that's the last time I decided to mess with the past. What's done is done. I'll never go back to a movie I made to enhance or change it."