Ready Player One: Time’s Up Means Recasting!

(L-R) T.J. MILLER as I-R0k and BEN MENDELSOHN as Sorrento in Warner Bros. Pictures', Amblin Entertainment's and Village Roadshow Pictures' action adventure "READY PLAYER ONE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The major problem with Ready Player One goes down to one thing: neither Steven Spielberg nor Warner Bros. Pictures decided to recast T.J. Miller’s role of I-R0k following allegations of assault and abuse.  Given the news stories that broke in December about allegations of sexual assault at college as well as my own personal experience, why didn’t Spielberg follow Ridley Scott’s lead with recasting the role?!?

Miller’s character is nowhere to be seen in the real world so why didn’t he get recast?  It seems like it would have been so easy.  All filmmakers needed to do would be to have someone dub over his voice by way of ADR.  It seems like it would be the perfect way to recast one of the worst things to like about the film–seriously, his OASIS avatar has got to be the ugliest one in the film.

Moreover, it makes it hard to buy into Steven Spielberg’s support of Time’s Up.  Upon being honored with the Legend of Our Lifetime Award at the Empire Awards, Spielberg had some words to say about what the movement means.

“It’s been a rich and diverse year for film and for gender and for race, and especially for speaking out. Thank you, Time’s Up. We were very much on board from the very beginning, my wife Kate and I. This is more important than any of us can ever really realize. I think in 10 years we’ll look back and realize what a watershed moment we’re experiencing together right now.”

As a victim of Miller’s transphobic abuse, I call bullshit on Spielberg’s words.  They are meaningless at best.  You can’t be on board from the very beginning of the Time’s Up movement and go on to keep AN ABUSER in the film!  Spielberg could have shown that he truly supported the movement by way of excising Miller from the film and yet, he didn’t.  He could have followed Ridley Scott’s lead from recasting Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in All The Money in the World.  Yet, T.J. Miller remains in Ready Player One.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s 40 minutes or 12 minutes.

True, the Ridley Scott film wasn’t as CGI-heavy as Spielberg’s film but that’s beside the point.  If there were real-world scenes, it could be a different story.  Unless the filmmakers or the studio are willing to make comments on the record, we’ll never know whether or not there were real world scenes with that were filmed with Miller.  The fact remains that it was purely a voice role.  In theory, these aren’t so hard to recast and actors do ADR all the time.

When I was at SXSW this past month, Austin had been plastered with Ready Player One posters.  This was complemented by the Ready Player One Experience.  I had a sneaky feeling going back to last August that the film would premiere at the film festival.  My hunch became true when the film’s premiere was announced over email.

Yet when the film’s premiere was announced, I was nowhere to be seen near the Paramount Theatre.  It pains me to not be able to say that I was in the same theater as Steven Spielberg.  He’s a filmmaker who helped make my childhood what it was.  Without Jurassic Park, I don’t know if I’d be doing this right now.  It’s the film that made me want to be a filmmaker.

I feel hurt by Spielberg keeping him in the film.  Yeah, Miller is in the film for a whopping twelve minutes but that’s twelve minutes too much!  Recasting Miller isn’t too hard and yet, he’s still in the film.  Please do better next time.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.