Sunday 17 November 2019

Olivia Cooke: I had panic attack at first Steven Spielberg meeting

She stars in his big-screen adaptation of the Ernest Cline novel.

Olivia Cooke (Ian West/PA)
Olivia Cooke (Ian West/PA)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

British star Olivia Cooke has spoken about her first meeting with Steven Spielberg ahead of her starring role in Ready Player One.

The Bates Motel star plays Samantha and her virtual alter-ego Art3mis in the director’s latest film about a battle for control of a virtual world called the Oasis.

She told the Press Association: “It was at a chemistry reading scenario at his offices in Los Angeles, and you’re put into a waiting room that has various Steven Spielberg memorabilia from all his different films.

Ready Player One European Premiere – London

“You’re just sat there just trying to calm yourself down and then you get brought into the room and you meet him.

“He comes in and he’s just so lovely, you’re so disarmed by how charming and kind he is, and he then operates the camera whilst you’re in the audition.”

She added: “He put me at ease as much as he possibly could, but I was still having a panic attack.”

Her co-star Tye Sheridan, who first found fame opposite Matthew McConaughey in Mud, added: “I was waiting and I was about to go in and I was so nervous, I actually remember calling my dad and he was like, ‘You know what, just enjoy the opportunity and I’m sure you’re going to be great’.

Ready Player One European Premiere – London

“I always call my dad before I do stuff, it puts me at ease, and I walked into the room and I was surprised to only see Olivia and Steven and the casting director and no one else.

“I thought, ‘Who’s going to operate the camera?’ And Steven was like, ‘Alright, well, just jump into it’ and he picks up the camera.”

He continued: “There’s always an intimacy with him, which I think does disarm you.”

Cooke, 24, said she was not a gaming fan but saw the film as inclusive for women, who have had a complicated relationship with the platform.

She said: “I think we’ve got such wonderful female characters and the reason why there are sometimes underwritten or weak female characters in films is just testament to bad writing.

“So I think people can really relate to Lena (Waithe)’s character H (Helen), and mine for being so selfless and so intelligent and so passionate and active the whole time.”

Ready Player One is released in UK cinemas on March 28.

PA Media

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