2013 Holiday Movie Guide

Asa’s Games

Asa Butterfield, 16, talks about filming his new movie, Ender’s Game, and making an app

November 01, 2013
© 2013 SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT, LLC.

Actor Asa Butterfield, 16, plays 12-year-old Ender Wiggins in the new film, Ender's Game.

Young English actor Asa Butterfield, 16, has already starred in two award-winning movies: the 2008 drama The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and the 2011 Martin Scorsese film, Hugo. Now, he’s heading to space as the lead in the futuristic sci-fi film, Ender’s Game (rated PG-13 for some violence and action).

Based on the classic sci-fi novel by Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game tells the story of Ender Wiggin, a gifted 12-year-old who is recruited to attend the galactic Battle School and to train to be a warrior for Earth. At Battle School, the International Fleet trains young geniuses to protect Earth from an insect-like alien race called the Formics. Ender excels at the contests and simulations that test his mental and physical abilities. But as he rises in the ranks, Ender’s compassion and intelligence force him to question parts of the training and to feel conflicted over what is right.

Recently, the teen actor stopped by the TFK offices to chat about school, apps, and playing Ender.

Ender (Asa Butterfield) shoots laser guns during a futuristic game of laser tag in a scene from Ender's Game.

© 2013 SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT, LLC.
Ender (Asa Butterfield) shoots laser guns during a futuristic game of laser tag in a scene from Ender's Game.

TFK:

Why did you want to do this movie?

ASA BUTTERFIELD:

The plot behind the film is any teenage boy's fantasy, so that was the main attraction. I learned that the book had such a massive following to it. I had always wanted to do something like this, so it was just a really good opportunity.

TFK:

How does the book translate in the film?

ASA:

Obviously, turning a book into a screenplay, you have to change certain things. The book is set over 10 years [but the film is not]. All the characters had to be aged up. But I think the core idea behind the book is definitely still intact.

TFK:

What do you think tweens and teens will enjoy about the movie?

ASA:

People my age, younger, [and] a bit older will enjoy the action and explosions and lasers, and also the storyline and themes from the book. I think parents are going to want to let their kids watch it because they have probably read the book and know that, not only is it a sci-fi action novel, it's also a lot about the human race and the choices you make.

TFK:

What are some of the other themes from the book?

ASA:

Bullying. Ender is put down both by adults and by his friends and by the bullies on Earth and in Battle School. He has to overcome them. The book also shows that everyone has dark and light sides. Ender is like a mix between his brother and sister. His sister is a selfless, open-minded, really kind person, and his brother is the complete opposite. Ender is in the middle. He doesn't want to be his brother, but he can’t help having his darker moments. I quite enjoyed playing those parts in the film.

TFK:

For training, the filmmakers sent the young actors to boot camp and space camp. How was that?

ASA:

It let us break the ice between all the kids, so by the end of it we were best friends. We learned how to march, how to do salutes, all the cadences and military techniques. It physically let us prepare for the role, but also mentally.

TFK:

What is a memorable moment you have from working with the other young actors?

Ender and Petra (Hailee Steinfield) prepare to jump into the Battle Room in a scene from Ender's Game.

© 2013 SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT, LLC.
Ender and Petra (Hailee Steinfield) prepare to jump into the Battle Room in a scene from Ender's Game.

ASA:

There is this one scene between me and Hailee [Steinfield, who plays Battle School student Petra] in the Battle Room, where we are spinning, going across this room, and I’m holding onto her arms. So [to film the antigravity scene] we were stuck in this hamster wheel contraption, which is attached to our waists, and there is a camera there. Someone would rotate us, and we would just be spinning head over feet for about 10 minutes to do this scene. By the end of it, not only were we completely dizzy, we were just laughing our heads off.

TFK:

You also worked a lot with Harrison Ford, who plays Ender’s mentor, Colonel Graff. How was that?

ASA:

Harrison is really cool. When I first started, I was like, "I'm working with Indiana Jones. Aah!" I had to pinch myself. He's a really nice guy, really down to earth, and he gave us a lot of tips.

TFK:

You recently released an app with your dad and brother called Racing Blind. It’s a game where you race on tracks that have been blacked out. Where did the idea come from?

ASA:

While filming The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, I had time on set when I was not doing schoolwork, and I got a bit bored. So we came up with this game that we played on pad and paper. Last year, we realized it would be a really good iPad game. We designed it, created the tracks, and we got someone to code it for us, and now it's in the App Store!

It’s really good for kids. My three-year-old little sister can play it, and she really enjoys it. Everyone can play it, and you can put it on different difficulties, so I can still find it difficult while my sister can still play.

TFK:

Do you have any other favorite apps?

ASA:

Traktor, this DJing app on my iPad, is really good. I'm really into music and making music. You just mix tracks.

TFK:

You go to a regular school when you are home in England. How do you balance that with acting?

ASA:

This year, I have my GCSE [an important standardized test in England], so that's definitely priority. Generally, I film in summer so I can spend as much time in school as possible, but I balance it.

Ender’s Game, rated PG-13 for some violence and action, hits theaters November 1.     


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