Entertainment Weekly

VIRTUAL INSANITY

NO CHEAT CODES NECESSARY! EW TAKES YOU BEHIND THE SCENES OF STEVEN SPIELBERG’S ADAPTATION OF READY PLAYER ONE, THE BIGGEST POP CULTURE SMORGASBORD TO EVER HIT THE SCREEN.
Olivia Cooke’s Samantha and her OASIS avatar, Art3mis

STEVEN SPIELBERG IS PLAYING CATCH ME IF YOU CAN WITH HIS PAST.

Before setting off to make a movie from Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One, a futuristic tale of a treasure hunt through a virtual-reality universe that’s heavy on ’80s geek culture, the filmmaker who defined that decade pledged to leave his own movies out of the picture. There was one exception: He allowed the hero to drive the time-traveling DeLorean from Back to the Future, which Spielberg executive-produced. Beyond that, the director didn’t want the new movie to become a series of shout-outs to his older ones.

His crew vowed otherwise. Thus began a covert campaign to sneak Spielbergia into the background of Ready Player One, often by visually referencing movies he produced rather than directed. Graffiti on one wall of the dystopian real-world set included the grinning green JAWS of a fiend from Gremlins. Spielberg killed it. A diner on one street during a chase was a wink to the villainous bank-robbing brothers from The Goonies. “We had a sly

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