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Steven Spielberg Picks Olivia Cooke as Female Lead for ‘Ready Player One’

Actress is the director’s favorite for the Ernest Cline YA adaptation

“Me and Earl and The Dying Girl” star Olivia Cooke has emerged as director Steven Spielberg‘s favorite for the female lead in “Ready Player One.”

Cooke is in early talks for the coveted part, an individual familiar with the negotiations said. TheWrap exclusively reported last week that Cooke was in contention for the highly anticipated adaptation of Ernest Cline’s YA novel. Warner Bros. declined to comment on the matter.

The casting would take her out of the running to join Disney’s “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” for which she was also being considered.

The film is set in a virtual-reality universe called Oasis, one that most people prefer to engage in more than the physical world. Wade, the protagonist, sets off on a series of challenges to win an invaluable prize. Spielberg will direct from a script by Zak Penn.

Village Roadshow and DreamWorks join Warner Bros. in the release, marking a return to the studio for Spielberg after 14 years. Previous Warner-Spielberg movies include “Empire of the Sun,” “The Color Purple” and “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.”

The “Lincoln” director also serves as producer alongside Donald De Line, Dan Farah and longtime Spielberg collaborator Kristie Macosko Krieger. Bruce Berman serves as executive producer.

The film is slated to hit theaters December 15, 2017.