Ender’s Game Interview with Khylin Rhambo

khylin rhambo ender's game feature

Ender’s Game is a popular children’s book that’s about to get a live-action adaptation coming out at the end of this month. We chat with Khylin Rhambo, who plays Dink Meeker in the upcoming movie. He talks about his role, Grand Theft Auto V, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and more.

John “Spartan” Nguyen (Nerd Reactor): I just want to say that I love your name. It’s really cool.

Khylin Rhambo: Thanks, thanks. I love it too.

Nerd Reactor: You’re in a big budget science fiction action movie, Ender’s Game. What’s your excitement level right now?

Khylin Rhambo: I mean my excitement level is probably at 9 billion right now to be honest. I’ve been waiting two years, or about a year and change, basically I’ve been waiting for this whole thing to finally unfold. Soon I get to see the finished product, so that is almost so exciting that I don’t even feel anything; it’s like a surreal moment. That’s what I’m feeling right now.

Nerd Reactor: Can you tell us about your character?

I play this character whose name is Dink Meeker, and he’s like the junior of the Battle School. He’s been there for a while and he comes in contact with Ender. The rules are simple, nobody interacts with the new kids because they ‘are’ the new kids and nobody likes them. But Dink, I liked playing him because he was an honorable character to play and when I say that, I mean he was willing to talk to Ender because he knew that there was something special about him. He’s willing to take one for the team if it means that they win. He’s willing to team up with people that he might not necessarily like, he’s willing to respect his boss’ orders even though his boss may be unorthodox. There’s just so many things about him that I would like to incorporate into my own life, so being able to play a noble character like that was actually an experience that I’ll never forget.

Nerd Reactor: You get to act with some big talent including Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford. So how was that?

Khylin Rhambo: Man, I’m not even going to lie to you. I was really scared. When I first found out who was going to be in the cast, I was like, “Are you serious? Did they make a mistake? Am I supposed to be in the movie?” It was amazing when I first saw them because these guys, I’ve seen so many of their movies and when I shook their hand I just couldn’t help but feel honored to be part of it. Every actor says that, you know, that it’s an honor to work with this person or it’s an honor to work with that person. But it truly, truly was an honor because these guys are elite. They’re at the top and you can’t help but learn from them. The energy on set, the way they carry themselves, it was great to see them like that, to be so professional and extremely talented. So you can’t help but be better when you’re surrounded by people like that.

Nerd Reactor: What’s your favorite Harrison Ford movie? Indiana Jones or Star Wars?

Khylin Rhambo: Oh man! I’m gonna go with Indiana Jones, but that’s only because I grew up on Indiana Jones more than Star Wars. I think I wasn’t born when the first Star Wars came out but when Indiana Jones came out, I just remember so many crazy scenes from that, even more than Star Wars. I think Indiana Jones is probably one of my favorites.

Nerd Reactor: Indiana or Han Solo?

Khylin Rhambo: I’m going to have to go Han Solo over Indiana Jones. The movie in itself, I enjoy the Indiana Jones movie just because it reminds me of my childhood, but Star Wars, when it comes to Han Solo and Indiana Jones, I pick Han Solo. He’s a boss.

Nerd Reactor: Yeah, he is pretty boss. I guess you can kind of say that your character in this is similar to Han Solo’s character. Dink, he’s helping out Ender, and he doesn’t have to. And Han Solo definitely does not have to help out Luke Skywalker, but he does anyway in the end.

Khylin Rhambo: Man, that actually made me feel really good, that you just compared Dink Meeker to Han Solo. Cool, thank you.

Nerd Reactor: Did you read the books before you were attached to the role in the movie?

Khylin Rhambo: No I didn’t, unfortunately. I did hear about it. My English teacher, she was telling me a story about Ender’s Game– I think it was almost two weeks prior to the audition so when I heard Ender’s Game, I was like, “Oh, this is what my teacher was talking about,” so it was kind of fresh in my head. I did most of the research after I realized I was going forward with the movie, and that’s when I actually became a fan of the book. I didn’t even expect to be a fan of the book because I figured, “Oh, this book was written so long ago. It’s gonna have different wording and it’s not going to be my type of book,” but I can definitely see why everyone loves it.

I had to read it because there’s so much information in there. There’s been more things in there than are in the movie just because there’s more to work with, there’s more time; they have a better timeline. So reading that gave me insight on my character and his interactions, and things that didn’t get to make it into the film but I can still bring the essence of my character to the film. So the book was definitely a tool.

Nerd Reactor: Can you describe how this movie is different from other science fiction movies?

Khylin Rhambo: Sure. From an audience point of view, it’s going to have the same, if not better visuals and all of those things. You can expect those because they’re going to have a lot of beautiful moments in the movie. I already know there’s going to be a lot of action and excitement. But what sets them apart from other sci-fi, shoot’em up, explosion-type movies is that there’s truly a message behind this film. Depending on this, there’s multiple ways you can interpret it, but there’s one revolves around leadership qualities and how Ender can be a better leader. So Ender does a lot of that, and there’s a lot of morality in the whole story, like who to trust. It’s a pretty deep story. I think that the message behind it is going to be the thing that sets it apart.

Nerd Reactor: This is definitely one of those movies where a lot of kids can look up to the characters and relate to them.

Khylin Rhambo: Yeah.

Nerd Reactor: Do you have your own action figures?

Khylin Rhambo: Yeah, I heard some action figure talk going on, so that’s going to be crazy. But to touch on your point with the kids looking up to our characters, I truly believe that because what we are are genius kids in the movie. That’s how we are, it’s what we play. We’re showing that kids are capable, kids are probably more capable than adults in some areas. And they show some kid power in there, which is pretty cool.

Nerd Reactor: Kids are smart now, especially with the Internet Age. A lot of young people out there are very bright and are creating programs or whatever. I’m baffled, it’s crazy.

Khylin Rhambo: Yeah, no. I have my little sister, she’s three year old, and she knows how to fully function an iPad. Delete the history and she knows how to do almost anything I know how to do, so you’re very right on that technology has in some ways advanced our youth.

Nerd Reactor: You’re on a show called The First Family?

Khylin Rhambo: Yes. Yes, I am. I’m part of the First Family in the White House, and my character’s name is Charles. I play the President’s son and basically Charles is an average kid. He’s not this preppy, hippie, classy kid. He’s just a normal kid, but he happens to have the President as his father, and he lives in the White House, so he kind of copes with that and has to deal with being the President’s son, but also trying to be normal at the same time. He’s a pretty fun, whacky character to play.

Nerd Reactor: He’s definitely no Dink Meeker.

Khylin Rhambo: Yeah, very. And I think that’s a good thing because it’s very cool to have some type of diversity. Too much of one thing, you get tired of it and want to try something new. This is a nice balance.

Nerd Reactor: Personally, I would never get tired of doing science fiction-type movies.

Khylin Rhambo: Actually, now that I think of it, the way that we shot Ender’s Game, honestly, it was the best experience of my life. That is no exaggeration because it was more than just an acting job. I mean we went to Space Camp, we went to boot camp, we had stunt training. I swear I came out there a better person than I was when I went in. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Nerd Reactor: Wow. You get to spend some extra time with your fellow cast members, and you get to have that extra bonding experience.

Khylin Rhambo: Oh yeah. We wanted to make the film as real as possible, because there are some die-hard fans that we know are going to be watching, and we want them to be pleased when they see that we worked really hard to bring this film to life.

Nerd Reactor: During your free time, do you have any nerdy hobbies or anything like that?

Khylin Rhambo: Oh man, you are talking to the Nerd King. Right now, as we speak, I just pressed pause on Grand Theft Auto V, so I’ve been going for a long time. I love Minecraft, I play Xbox, I have a Wii. I love science fiction films, man, yeah. I kinda just stay home and play video games and go on the internet, YouTube and all that stuff.

Nerd Reactor: How far are you in Grand Theft Auto?

Khylin Rhambo: I’m at 83%. I beat it, I’m trying to get more goals now.

Nerd Reactor: Damn! You did better than me. I completed 75%, so you’re up there.

Khylin Rhambo: That only comes with staying up till 5 in the morning every day, so you can’t help but just keep getting better. But I’m so mad that the online isn’t working for me right now.

Nerd Reactor: Me too. I’m like, “What is going on? I just want to play online!”

Khylin Rhambo: That’s all I want as well.

Nerd Reactor: Do you have any other last words for other young actors out there?

Khylin Rhambo: Oh, yeah. Being an actor, it’s given me so many opportunities to meet new and different types of people. Artists, people from all trades in the industry. I wouldn’t change anything for the world because the people who I’ve met, who, you know, enjoy acting along with me, they’re the most creative people. They accept me and it’s a bond that when two actors get together, it’s a really cool bond. I’m still friends with the people, the cast of Ender’s Game. I think being a young actor is cool because I get to learn from people like Harrison Ford and Sir Ben Kingsley. Who knows? By the time I get to be their age, who knows where I’ll be. Maybe I’ll end up a legend like one of them.

Follow Khylin on Twitter @KhyRhambo

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John Nguyen
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