Out of everything that we’re excited to see in director Gavin Hood’s adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, the one thing everyone is waiting for are the zero-gravity scenes in the Battle Room. The idea of a bunch of kids literally bouncing off the walls, freezing each other, and scheming for victory like burgeoning little despots is pretty exciting. And if the film fails to deliver on this front, it’s going to be difficult for it to live up to the potential in the story.
These are intense, intricate scenes, and, in an interview with io9, star Asa Butterfield (Hugo) has shed some light on how they approached these sequences. The process of filming them sounds just as crazy as the scenes are portrayed in the book. After intense bouts of training and rehearsal, the actors were strapped into harnesses and hoisted into the air.
An astronaut even visited the set to give the actors pointers about what it is like to move, or at least try to, in zero gravity. Butterfield says:
You have to move really slowly…fluidly and smoothly. When you’re in the harnesses to stop yourself from falling at the waist, which is where they’re connected, you have to be tensed up. So keeping actions smooth whilst having your whole body completely tensed is surprisingly difficult. Meanwhile you’re saying your lines. They were fun, they were amazing fun to shoot, especially the sort action moments when you’re flying across shooting your gun. Those are awesome.
Oh, is that all? That doesn’t sound hard at all.
The aforementioned guns are tools the Battle School recruits use in these military training exercises. When shot, wherever you’re hit, your battle suit freezes in place. So if you get shot in the leg, you can’t move your leg, and so on. This presented its own set of problems during production. ”
For the long shots you just had to freeze,” says Butterfield. “You’re just frozen. For the close ups occasionally they had these contraptions that just locked your arm in place. And they did use CG to make sure there weren’t any tiny wobbles.”