Sir Ben Kinglsey is about to be all over movie screens—and already is in international theaters—as the villainous Mandarin in the spectacle that is Iron Man 3. With a high-profile role in what is sure to be one of the biggest films of the summer (it has already banked more than $200 million, and hasn’t even opened in the U.S.), the decision to release the first glimpse of Kingsley as Mazer Rackham in Ender’s Game feels like a strategic move.
Directed by X-Men Origins: Wolverine helmer Gavin Hood, Ender’s Game is based on the novel by Orson Scott Card. The story follows a young boy, Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), who is recruited to an elite, Moon-orbiting military school. These kids are being groomed as the next wave of leaders who will lead a war against an alien species.
Heavily tattooed, Rackham is an enigmatic, half-Maori war hero. Now something of a recluse, he is celebrated for once having led the forces of Earth against a previous wave of alien invasion. He’s something of a space badass, and eventually serves as a mentor and spiritual guide to young Ender.
Kingsley worked with an expert in Maori tribal designs, and tells EW that the sprawling patterns across his face are a sort of historical text. “Every gesture in the tattoo carries family history, family struggles—it’s your past…I was so enthralled. He’s in quite a contained, stylized uniform but then this wonderful face tells his warrior history.”
Ender’s Game also stars Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, and Viola Davis, and opens in theaters November 1, 2013. I’m looking forward to those zero-gravity fight scenes from Battle School. We should finally see a trailer playing with Star Trek Into Darkness.