What’s especially interesting about the movie is it deals with children in a wartime situation and the complicated relationships that they have with the adults. How would you say Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford and Viola Davis approached their roles?
Roberto Orci: Well we treated the three of them very differently. The idea was that they (Ford and Davis) are sort of surrogate parents to him. He leaves his real parents and then goes into battle school and he’s got sort of the father in Harrison Ford and the empathetic mother in Viola. So treating them as sort of his family in space was the idea.
Asa, I know, did not spend a lot of time with Harrison Ford. It was a result of Gavin’s instructions to both Harrison and to Asa not to socialize too much because he wanted to keep a degree of that distance in that relationship alive and real. He didn’t want them to be so friendly off the set that then when they got on the set they were like, “Let’s pretend.”
The relationship you’re seeing on the set and on film is very much crafted by a certain distance they kept from each other professionally for the good of the movie. Gavin wanted to keep the protagonist a little bit distant and a little bit intimidated by this incredible thing that was Col. Graff/Harrison Ford. And as the movie plays out and they get more comfortable with each other, you see Asa having to stand up to Col. Graff and you see Ender sort of growing and becoming a leader.
We shot the movie in sequence which was interesting, so not only did Asa grow two inches during the shooting of the movie, he also grew in his comfort and in his ability to stand up to Col. Graff. There’s a real nice, subliminal almost progression of that relationship, and it’s a result of shooting it in sequence and the result of Asa coming into his own. He had already worked with Sir Ben Kingsley before, and so here he is with another powerhouse. It’s cool to watch him step into that role.
It’s great to hear that you got to shoot the movie in sequence because that usually never happens and this is the perfect movie to do that.
Robert Orci: It never happens.
We watch as Asa goes from being this kid who’s not sure in his abilities to being very confident in what he can do. We have all been exposed to characters in film and literature who are “the one” to save the world or the universe or whatever, and we watch as they flail about with a lot of self-doubt, questioning if they really are the one. But what’s interesting about Ender is that he doesn’t shy away from that role the way so many other characters do.
Robert Orci: And that goes back to what we were saying before: that’s because it’s a world worth saving. So he wants to save it and he’s not trying to be coy about it. He wants to save his sister and his parents. He even wants to save his brother (laughs).
Gigi Pritzker: It also feeds into the thirds issue which I thought was such a fascinating thing in the book. You see it in countries like China that have population controls. We live in a world that we have overpopulated, so we can’t afford to have that many people. What is the psychology of that for a kid who was born because his parents had to get permission? Because they specifically wanted him, but also had to bend the rules to get to him, so he has to prove himself. He even says that: “Well that’s why I was born, right?”