Asa Butterfield, 16, is already one of Hollywood’s best young actors, starring in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Hugo before he even turned 14. In Ender’s Game, in theaters now, he tackles one of the bestselling sci-fi characters of all-time. He took a few minutes from his busy schedule to give me the scoop on what it took to stand in Ender’s shoes.
Ender’s Game is a sci-fi classic. Were you a fan of the book before taking the role?
I got the book after I’d read the script and loved it, so it was great to have the book as a resource once we started shooting. It was a daunting prospect to make a film from a book that is beloved by so many people, but director Gavin Hood and the rest of the team have worked tirelessly to recreate it for film, and the fans.
What was it like doing so much stunt work?
They couldn’t create zero-gravity, so it relied on us to float our arms. So not only we were trying to hold ourselves flat, but we were also moving our arms and legs very slowly to keep the illusion of zero-gravity. So not only were we doing the lines and acting, but we always had to float our arms, and that was quite tough. We also did wire work during the four or five weeks that we filmed the Battle Room sequences, and those are great fun. The flash suits look incredible, but they were really hot. They’re not the most comfortable thing, especially with the harness on.
You’ve already starred in a few legendary films, what’s it been like to find success at a young age?
When I started acting, I really didn’t have anything to compare it with. I was 10 years old when I filmed The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and what hit me more than any feeling of success, was just how hard it was. That was a tough film on all sorts of levels, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it again. It was really only when I was filming Hugo that I could see and feel other people’s responses to my work.
What’s life like for you when you’re not making movies?
I go to the same school that I have attended since I was 11 years old, so it’s quite ordinary for me there. In my spare time I like to play computer games, Defense of the Ancients is a favorite at the moment, hang out with my friends and play football in the park. I am also interested in photography and making music.
Speaking of games, you recently designed an iPad game called Racing Blind. How did that come about?
It came about while I was filming The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. To help pass the time on set, between scenes, I invented a paper and pen game with my dad. We called it Racing Blind because you had to play with your eyes closed. Over the years it became a bit of a family favorite. Then last year it struck us that it would make an excellent game for the iPad. So, we sat down and figured out how it would work best, and what it should look like. My Dad wrote the music and a friend of his programmed it. It’s a pass and play racing game, fun for all the family.
What’s next for you?
I filmed a British independent film in the summer called X Plus Y about a gifted math genius with Asperger syndrome. I also have a few things in the pipeline for later this year — but I’m not allowed to say what they are just yet.
You’ve now played a few of literature’s most famous young characters. If you could take on the role of any other notable character in the future, real or fictional, who would you choose?
Wow, there are so many fictional characters that I’d love to play. But if I had to choose one, my dream role is James Bond, of course.
Ender’s Game is now playing in theaters everywhere. The film is rated PG-13. To learn more about its rating, click here.