The actor best known for Star Wars and Indiana Jones stepped into another mainstream piece of pop culture with Ender’s Game. The $100 million Lionsgate adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s novel of the same name focuses on an epic battle between Earth and invading aliens using next generation video game technology called the Battle Room. Ford, who last was involved in video games promoting Uncharted 3 for Sony and Naughty Dog, talks about how today’s video game culture is influencing kids today in this exclusive interview.
Why do you think the book Ender’s Game has stood the test of time?
Although it was written 28 years ago, it predicted things that have come to pass in our lives from some distance away. There’s some wisdom here that I think we should value. It predicted the Internet. It predicted touchscreen technology. It predicted blogosphere, it predicted drone warfare. All these things are part of our lives right now. But more than that, the underlining themes of the responsibility that a society imposes on its young people is something that I was particularly attracted to. I play a character that’s responsible for recruiting and training young warriors who will help thwart the threat of an alien invasion which has visited Earth once before and created devastating consequences for life here. It is proposed that young people have a capacity to absorb huge inputs of information more easily than older people, and to create a strategic opportunity out of that to crunch a lot of information. In part because of the culture of gaming, they know that their experience with video gaming is now being transferred into training, which is to supplement their instinct for strategy and to give them the opportunity to train for this coming battle. It also questions the morality of the culture of imposing these kinds of responsibilities on young people.
What was the biggest challenge of taking the character of Colonel Graft onto the big screen and evolving his relationship with Ender?
I don’t think there’s any particular challenge. I think there was an opportunity and there were wonderful people involved. The director was passionate about the subject and very wise about it. The young people that I’m working with are wonderfully talented, really focused on understanding what their responsibilities are, and they have a great work ethic. They’re great fun to work with. The older actors were a treat to work with, Viola Davis and Sir Ben Kingsley. It’s a character different than I’ve played before. I don’t think theirs is any particular challenge. It’s just an opportunity.
What role did technology play in bringing the Battle School sequences to life?
The technology has evolved to the point where these effects are relatively easily generated in the computer, but the design of these effects still falls to the imagination of the director and the production designer, and I think the reality that they’ve created is very compelling and interesting.