Rockville to Hollywood! Local teen Philip Zhao lands role in Steven Spielberg film, Ready Player One

- A local teen is living out his dream after unexpectedly landing a role in the latest Steven Spielberg hit, Ready Player One. The new sci-fi adventure follows an unlikely hero through a virtual reality universe and Philip Zhao, a 14-year-old Rockville native with no previous acting experience, snagged a supporting role.

Playing the character of Sho, a teen gamer sidekick in the film's virtual reality world, Zhao landed the part after his dad submitted his audition tape online.

"I just winged it and like -- boom!" Zhao admitted after saying he didn't have any experience in local theater or school plays when he sent in his tape. He said he thought he fit the criteria for the character who was described as being a bi-lingual teen gamer. After a round of auditions with the film's casting director - Zhao learned he got the part.

Zhao said he first met Spielberg on-set and even celebrated his thirtieth birthday with the legendary director.

So -- how does a Hollywood newcomer celebrate his first film? Zhao said he bought his own ticket to see Ready Player One when he went with friends to the AMC Loews Rio Cinemas in Gaithersburg. And no one recognized him!

But his character is by no means irrelevant! Zhao even has his own Funko Pop Doll!

He's caught the acting bug for sure but Zhao is definitely having fun with his newfound success. And now that he's worked with Steven Spielberg in one of the biggest films of the year -- he might even try out for the next school play!

Find out more about Ready Player One!

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