Asa Bopp Farr Butterfield note , born Asa Maxwell Thornton Farr Butterfield, born 1 April 1997 in Islington, England, is an English actor and esports player best known for portraying Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, the eponymous hero of Hugo, and Ender Wiggin in the film adaptation of Ender's Game.
He began acting at age 8 after he was spotted by a casting director at a local drama club, and soon did the Made-for-TV Movie After Thomas. From there he had a supporting role in Son of Rambow before doing an episode of Ashes to Ashes (2008) in 2008. In the same year he won the recurring role of the infamous Mordred in The BBC's Merlin — a role not dissimilar to his successful performance in Rambow, possibly why he was cast. Released around the same time was the film adaptation of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, in which he starred.
Butterfield was still attending regular school like any other boy and would put his career on temporary hold from the Autumn of 2008, when he began secondary school, with a supporting role in The Wolfman followed by the lead in the sequel to Nanny McPhee released in 2010. In these films he played alongside people like Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, and his own real stardom began. Following this he got the lead in Martin Scorsese's adaptation Hugo, leading the renowned cast comprising Sir Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Chloë Grace Moretz. He also played the titular Ender Wiggin in Ender's Game, again heading up the All-Star Cast, including Sci-Fi veteran Harrison Ford.
After finishing up Ender's Game, Butterfield worked on several other films, including Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, The Space Between Us, and Slaughterhouse Rulez. He most recently appeared in Sex Education, where he plays the protagonist Otis Milburn.
As an esports player, Butterfield has played at the Nintendo World Championships in New York in 2017 and Genesis 6 in Oakland, California in 2019. He was signed onto Team Liquid in October 2020 under the username "Stimpers." Butterfield has also bridged the gap between acting and professional gaming when he was signed onto Panda Global in 2018 as a brand ambassador to promote the esports team to a wider audience, taking advantage of his fame.
- Andrew in After Thomas (2006)
- Brethren Boy in Son of Rambow (2007)
- Donny in Ashes to Ashes (2008)
- Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)
- Mordred in Merlin (2008)
- Younger Ben Talbot in The Wolfman (2010)
- Norman Green in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010)
- Hugo Cabret in Hugo (2011)
- Ender Wiggin in Ender's Game (2013)
- Nathan Ellis in X+Y (2014)
- Jude Keffy-Horn in Ten Thousand Saints (2015)
- Jacob Portman in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
- Sebastian Prendergast in The House of Tomorrow (2017)
- Jimmy Raleigh in Journey's End (2017)
- Gardner Elliot in The Space Between Us (2017)
- Calvin Lewis in Then Came You (2018)
- Stillman in Time Freak (2018)
- Willoughby Blake in Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)
- Otis Milburn in Sex Education (2019)
- Brandon Boyd in 50 States of Fright (2020)
Tropes applied to his works:
- Dawson Casting: Throughout his acting career, Butterfield has primarily played characters younger than his age. He has played a 10 year old in Ender's Game while 14-15, a 16 year old when 18 in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and a 17 year old in Sex Education when 21 years old.
- Fake Nationality: Frequently. He has played a German in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a Frenchman in Hugo and an American in Ender's Game, all before his sixteenth birthday.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Especially in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Hugo, and Merlin, whereas in Ender's Game and later movies/TV shows, they're more like Icy Blue Eyes.
- Socially Awkward Hero: We see him play this type in Ender's Game, X+Y, The Space Between Us, Then Came You, Time Freak, and Sex Education.
- Tabloid Melodrama: Butterfield was a candidate for the role of Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When casting, there were rumors that he was about to receive the role but lost out because he felt that he couldn't keep the secrets. Although he later debunked the rumors, they persisted for a while.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: As a young adult, Butterfield stands at 6 feet tall, and has become quite popular with younger audiences.
- Teen Genius: Many of his roles involve this type. We see this in Ender's Game, X+Y, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and Time Freak.
- The Film of the Book: Most of his roles are within these. He has commented that he prefers such roles because "when you have a book as material as it is, it's a lot easier to create a character because you have so many resources to draw upon when acting."
- Typecasting: His filmography is made up of waifish, precocious boys in science fiction and fantasy.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: He played this type in many films from his younger years and seemed unusally mature as a child, giving inspirational and wise quotes in interviews.
- Asa Butterfield wanted to quit acting at the age of 8 after The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas because he found it difficult to handle the intense themes of death and suffering.
- Butterfield attended a regular school until his graduation and refused homeschooling despite requests by staff to begin homeschooling. He believed that homeschooling would separate him from reality.
- He created a mobile app known as Racing Blind at the age of 16 and was the only app on the App Store at the time designed to be played blind.
- Butterfield auditioned for the role of Spider-Man in 2015, but lost to Tom Holland. Debunked rumors emerged that his Reddit post was what lost him the role.
- Butterfield's mother is a psychologist, much like Otis Milburn's mother.
- Butterfield likes electronic music, Dungeons and Dragons, DOTA 2, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and science.