It's Asa Butterfield's and Hailee Steinfeld's first Comic-Con, and they're very eager to talk about their new movie, the highly anticipated adaptation of the highly acclaimed book "Ender's Game."
In the upcoming film, Butterfield plays the titular hero, Ender Wiggin, a boy with a remarkable ability who is sent to Battle School, a training center where his skills can be honed and used in the fight against the Buggers, an alien race that has all but decimated humanity. Steinfeld plays Petra Arkanian, one of very few female students at the Battle Center, who takes Ender under her wing.
Butterfield and Steinfeld sat down with Moviefone before heading off to the Hall H presentation at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con. The pair weren't shy when it came time to talk about the anxiety that comes with adapting such a huge book for the big screen, an unforgettable (and accidental) Zero-G moment with Harrison Ford, and the major on-set prank that had Steinfeld in tears. Well, almost.
What's one word that best describes your experience with "Ender's Game"?
Asa Butterfield: I don't think I can describe it in one word.
Hailee Steinfeld: Epic.
Steinfeld: Phenomenal. Incredible.
Butterfield: That's a good word.
Steinfeld: We just gave you, like, ten words when all you wanted was one.
Butterfield: Pick one.
What about your co-stars, Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, and Ben Kingsley? What one word would you use to describe Harrison?
And Ben Kingsley?
Butterfield: Bad-ass. Is bad-ass two words? No, it's got a hyphen.
They're all amazing actors. Are there any stories you can share about working with them? Anything that happened on the set?
Butterfield: There's one story with Harrison. It was on the shuttle, from when we first got into Battle School. We were all strapped into our chairs. We were in Zero-G, so our hands were floating. And then we look over our shoulder and Harrison comes in on a harness, just floating through the shuttle, and then he does his speech. And on his way back he started to flip. It wasn't deliberate; he just started to roll over in the shuttle. I don't think he found it as funny as the rest of us.
Going in, were you nervous about tackling such a beloved, fan-coveted book?
Butterfield: Because there's such a huge following, it is daunting. It's a bit nerve-racking. But it is also like you're coming into a family. It's an amazing feeling.
What's changed from the book to the movie?
Butterfield: Obviously, the main one is the change in age of the characters, mainly for practical reasons: The length of time in which the film had to be done and in which the story took place. Rather than going from when Ender was six to twelve, it was fourteen and fifteen.
Steinfeld: Other than that it's pretty truthful to the book.
The book is known for some pretty colorful curse words. Did they make their way into the movie?
Butterfield: They did. What were some of them? Bernard had... What was it? There were. All of the "Ender's Game" lingo from the book is still in the movie. And all the cursing and stuff.
What was your favorite curse word?
Butterfield: There was one that Bernard had, which Conor [Carroll] had... I'm trying to think what it was.
Steinfeld: It'll come to us.
Butterfield: You'll see it.
Steinfeld: Go see the movie and you'll know what we're talking about. [Laughs]
There's a lot of hurry-up-and-wait on movie sets, especially when you have big, elaborate set pieces, like in "Ender's Game." What did you guys do to kill time?
Steinfeld: We were pretty serious on set. When we were on our lunch breaks and our big breaks, we would just play basketball outside and pull pranks, and stuff like that.
Butterfield: I wasn't the best at basketball, I have to say.
Steinfeld: But in between takes it was very much, you know, staying in the zone and respecting everybody else's space.
So it was pretty serious most of the time?
Butterfield: Well, we were having fun.
Steinfeld: Maybe serious isn't the right word.
Tell us more about the pranks.
Steinfeld: So, we had this thing where we would literally scare each other everywhere we went. Which, by the way, I pulled off last night with Asa pretty well.
Butterfield: Don't even go there. There was one right at the end of shooting with Gavin. This was a prank on us, actually.
Steinfeld: At the end of the film, one of the cast members, Moises Arias, who plays Bonzo Madrid, had to shave his hair for the ending scene. You know, it's one of those things where you're OK with it because you have to do it, but it's also like, you know...
Butterfield: You're shaving your hair.
Steinfeld: Yeah, it's a big thing, right? So Moises handled it very well, but you could see he was a little, you know, taken aback by looking at himself in the mirror and this drastic change. And Asa and I walked on set and Gavin turns around and has a black eye. My heart dropped. I was like, "What just happened?" And he goes, "I told him. I told him that he could take it out on me because I made him shave his head. And I was literally, like, crying. I was like, "Moises would never do that. What's happening?" And then they were like, "Just kidding! It's makeup!" I was like, "I'm done. I'm getting out of here." That was the biggest prank.
This may be a little strange to do in print, but could each of you give a Six Second Review of "Ender's Game"?
Steinfeld: A six-second review? [to Asa] Go.
Butterfield: I'll time you.
Steinfeld: No, you go first.
Butterfield: No, you first.
Butterfield: All right. "Ender's Game" is a super-awesome film that I'm sure you're going to love, both fans of the book and new people are going to enjoy it...
Butterfield: ...And I hope you see it on November 1st! That was six seconds. That was very nearly six.
Steinfeld: I was kidding; I wasn't counting. [To Asa] You were counting.
That was pretty close to six seconds.
Steinfeld: Oh, really? Oh, god. I'll just talk real slow. "Ender's Game" is one of the coolest films of-- no you're counting too fast! "Ender's Game" is an epic adventure that will appeal to...
Steinfeld: ...All ages and comes out November 1st. [Laughs] Beep!