Enders Game Rackham
Credit: Richard Foreman, JR

“It’s alchemy,” Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley said of the collaborative process that brings his enigmatic character, Mazer Rackham, to life in the sci-fi epic Ender’s Gamer. (Click the photo for a larger image.)

Director-writer Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) was key, according to Kingsley, as was the make-up and costume team working with Kingsley to breathe life into the half-Maori war hero, who is an almost mythical presence in Orson Scott Card’s 1980s bestseller.

“In the script, which I think is beautifully written, what come across is the authority and mystery,” Kingsley said of Rackham, a man who saved earth once and may have to do it again. “There’s quite a lot said about him in the story before you see him — by the recruits and by his fellow officers — and that’s useful as far as preparations.”

The Ender experience reunites Kingsley with Hugo co-star Asa Butterfield, a prodigy who could be earth’s last hope against space invaders if he can survive a brutal military school experience — it’s Taps in space, essentially. Kingsley was in student mode himself with a Maori tribal expert, who explained the inked mosaic on Mazer’s face is a historical record. “Every gesture in the tattoo carries family history, family struggles – it’s your past,” the actor says. “I was so enthralled. He’s in quite a contained, stylized uniform but then this wonderful face tells his warrior history.”

The film also stars Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin and Viola Davis.

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