Every actor who plays a villain will tell you their character isn’t really a bad guy.
Blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Sure — they always just want to end the world.
But in the case of Nolan Sorrento, the antagonist in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, actor Ben Mendelsohn actually makes an extraordinary case for why his character is actually doing more good for mankind than the hero, played by Tye Sheridan.
The movie is set in 2045, and environmental blight and poverty have made real life a miserable experience for pretty much everyone except the super-wealthy. The poor escape their drudgery by plugging into the virtual reality OASIS, a pop-culture wonderland full of movie, TV, video game, and comic book references from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.
When the billionaire creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind an Easter egg hunt that will decide ownership of the company that controls this technology. If Sheridan’s lone-wolf nobody Wade Watts solves the puzzle, he can keep this escapism cheap and accessible for people all over the world.
But if IOI, one of the world’s corporate giants, puts together all the clues first, they will turn it into a profit center that will leave many of the world’s young and poor locked out of this digital playground.
Sorrento, played by Rogue One star Mendelsohn, is willing to literally kill to help IOI win the contest, but the actor insisted his character was in the right. He’s actually motivated by a desire to save the real world from a generation of young people who are too plugged in to the fake one.
Watch the video from EW’s Comic-Con suite for the full explanation, but it comes down to this: If the world is that much of a mess, maybe people shouldn’t be wasting their time in a glorified video game.
And for a deeper dive into the trailer, check out our gallery here and check back soon for Ready Player One author Ernest Cline’s walkthrough.