|“||This is war. We’re controlling the future.||„|
|~ Nolan Sorrento's most famous quote.|
|“||F'Nale, listen carefully- Ouch!||„|
|~ Nolan Sorrento's final words before getting punched by F'Nale as the pair are in the police car before it drives off.|
Nolan Sorrento is the main antagonist of the 2011 science fiction novel Ready Player One written by Ernest Cline, and its 2018 live-action film adaptation of the same name.
He is a corrupt and ruthless businessman who is the head of operations at Innovative Online Industries (CEO in the film version), the superior of F’Nale Zandor, I-R0k and the Sixers as well as Wade Watts' arch-nemesis.
He was portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn, who also played John Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises, Danny Rayburn in Bloodline, Orson Krennic in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Talos in Captain Marvel, Killian in Spies in Disguise and Special Agent Mace in Infinity Train.
Nolan Sorrento earned his PhD in Computer Science before he became a well-known game designer, designing third-party RPGs within the OASIS. When James Halliday, the OASIS's creator, died, he stated in his will that whoever found the Easter egg that he hid within his virtual universe by obtaining three keys and passing through three gates would inherit both his $240 billion fortune and control of the OASIS.
As Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a communications conglomerate and internet service provider, saw the potential in Sorrento, they hired him as head of operations, leading a group of Sixers (slang for an IOI employee, as told by their six-digit ID number) to find the egg, using various trivia pertaining to Halliday's life and the vast pop culture of the 1980s to decipher clues relating to the location of the keys and gates. Upon discovering the egg, IOI plans to monetize the OASIS by implanting monthly fees and abundant advertisements.
After Wade Watts (known in the OASIS as Parzival) becomes the first gunter (popular term to users searching for the egg) to discover the Copper Key and pass the first gate, Sorrento contacts Parzival with the intent of a business proposal. Already planning to decline and thinking he has nothing to lose, Wade accepts his invitation to a virtual chatlink. At first, Sorrento tries to offer Wade a position in helping him find the egg with the promise of a large bonus if he himself finds it, and then goes down to a $5,000,000 offer just to tell him where to find the Copper Key. When Wade continues to refuse, Sorrento reveals that he knows Wade's real identity and address (having learned from the records at Wade's school on the OASIS) and offers a final ultimatum: reveal the location of the Copper Key, or be killed via explosives rigged to the apartment where he lives. Believing it a bluff, Wade rebuffs his threats and logs out from the chat. Sorrento makes good on his promise and destroys Wade's apartment. However, Wade was away at a faraway hideout while he was logged in.
After one of Wade's online rivals, I-R0k, decides to disclose the location of the Copper Key, Sorrento and his Sixers rush to the hiding spot of the key and use a force field to block off access to any other users.
After Art3mis, a very popular gunter who found the Copper Key with Wade's help before Sorrento's arrival, obtains the Jade Key, Sorrento uses a powerful in-game artifact that pinpoints any user once a day to discover the key's location. While trying to block access to other gunters, he and his forces are attacked by Shoto and Daito, two Japanese users who are close friends with Art3mis and Wade (who fled his home under another identity). At this time, several hitmen hired by Sorrento break into the apartment of the person controlling Daito and kill him by throwing him off his balcony. As well, Daito's avatar is left without a user, and it is killed as a result.
After he and many other Sixers obtain their own Jade Keys, Sorrento manages to find and pass through the second gate, obtain the Crystal Key (the final one), and reach and final gate soon after. After discovering the location of the final gate, Sorrento tries to enter, but finds that he cannot, unable to decipher the meaning words etched on the door (Charity, Hope, Faith). Though stuck, most of the Sixers surround the gate's location and apply a powerful force field to prevent any potential users from coming close to buy themselves time.
Meanwhile, Wade manages to get neck and neck with Sorrento, getting the remaining keys and passing the second gate, but cannot pass through the force field towards the final gate. Wade puts a bold plan in motion, managing to infiltrate IOI as an indentured employee using a series of passwords he obtained via an online black market, gaining information about the force field along with the attempts at the lives of him and his friends. He escapes shortly after and uploads the evidence of IOI's acts to several news outlets. After gathering and reuniting Art3mis, Shoto, and his best friend Aech, they orchestrate an all-out assault on Sorrento and the Sixers.
The next day, they, along with hundreds of thousands of other users, stand outside the gate's location to prepare for battle. After a robot Wade hacked destroys the power source of the force field, it disappears and Sorrento fights Wade and Shoto with mechs that they obtained in the second gate. Shoto is killed, but Wade manages to defeat Sorrento's mech and kill his avatar. Wade, Aech, and Parzival, who have already learned how to open the gate, reach it, but their avatars are killed after the Sixers detonate an immensely powerful and destructive bomb that kills all users within the vicinity. Several Sixers waited outside the blast radius and move in to complete the final gate, having learned by watching Wade and his friends before the bomb went off.
However, Wade had obtained an extra life earlier and is able to reach the gate before the Sixers, completing it before any of them. After Wade obtains the egg, earning both Halliday's fortune and ownership of the OASIS, Wade learns that the FBI has arrested Sorrento, who looks confident that his lawyers will save him.
In the end of the film version, Sorrento seeing Wade is still in the OASIS game, takes a car with F'Nale Zandor and takes a gun. He follows Wade and the rest in the van as he's about to kill Wade. He opens the van about to shoot Wade, but seeing Wade had already won by obtaining the egg and seeing his tears fall apart, he puts down the gun. Sorrento was arrested on screen when he tried to kill Wade and was taken to a cop car. He asks F'Nale to listen carefully, but F'Nale Zandor hits him as to remind him that it's already game over for him, before being taken away.
Sorrento is portrayed as an extremely greedy, arrogant, manipulative and calculating individual with a bare minimal regard for human life. He will employ underhanded or even illegal tactics to ensure that he (or anyone of his employees under his command) gains control of the OASIS, a massive online virtual-reality program that most of the world's population uses in the near-future, by finding the Easter egg hidden inside the simulated universe by James Halliday, the OASIS's late creator.
Along with blocking access to areas where keys and gates are located (which are the only ways to continue searching for the egg), as well as using rigged visors to switch control to another user or feed him information when he cannot solve a puzzle or complete a task, Sorrento will even plan and authorize the murders of any people who come closer to finding the egg than he does, as shown with the failed attempt at Wade "Parzival" Watt's life and the successful attempt at Toshiro "Daito" Yoshiaki's life.
- Nolan Sorrento has a backstory in the fan-fiction story Lacero, written by Andy Weir, which has been considered canon to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, the author. In this backstory, Sorrento wanted to destroy the OASIS as it was responsible for his sister's death as well as Earth's downfall. The story takes place a few years before Ready Player One (the story takes place in about 2043, whereas Ready Player One takes place in 2045)
- The backstory contradicts a statement in Ready Player One; Wade states that IOI directly hired Nolan as the Head of the Oology division, whereas in the story, no mention is made about his video games, and that he applied for a lower-ranking job in the Oology division. However, the film is likely set on a different continuity due some differences with the book, so it likely just makes Sorrento's backstory non-canonical within the film version of the story.