If you ask writer-director Aaron Sorkin, there is no real life counterpart to Player X, the famous celebrity played by Michael Cera in Molly's Game. But, ask anyone who's read Molly Bloom's book, and they'll have a few ideas who Player X is based on in Molly's Game. In the new movie, adapted from Bloom's book of the same name, Player X is a young Hollywood star, emboldened in the high stakes game by a seemingly infinite income and the entitlement that often comes with early superstardom. His relationship with Bloom is sometimes teasing and respectful, other times tense and spiteful. But in the book, Bloom actually describes multiple A-list players who fit this profile.
Bloom, an Olympic hopeful turned cocktail waitress turned high stakes poker game organizer, worked with many A-list celebrities over the years. And, as detailed in the book, many of them ended up having rocky relationships as the game got more heated. Mentioned in her book (by first name only) are Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Alex Rodriguez, and many others, all of whom could potentially fit the profile of Player X. The most popular theory: Player X is based on Maguire. The Spider-Man star, and member of the infamous "Pussy Posse," was a regular at Bloom's games. He's also the celebrity featured most heavily in her memoir, not always in the most positive light.
In the book, Bloom claims that Maguire became increasingly displeased with her tips and how she ran the game. The book is full of odd exchanges between the duo, including one in which he allegedly asks her to "bark like a seal" in exchange for one thousand-dollar chip. And, eventually, Maguire allegedly steals the game right out from under her, convincing his famous and rich friends to host instead. Player X makes a similarly slimy move in the movie, which has led many to believe that Player X is, indeed Maguire. The fact that the character is played by Michael Cera, a thin, boyish actor like Maguire, only adds credence to this theory. Bustle has reached out to Maguire for comment, but hasn't heard back at this time.
Bloom herself has not exactly pushed back to reports that Player X is based on Maguire. In an interview with Vulture, she was asked if any of the real life players had contacted her about the film, specifically pointing out "it's kind of an open secret that 'Player X' is Maguire, for example." Sorkin, however, has repeatedly insisted that Player X is not based on one particular celebrity, but is, in fact, an amalgamation of many Hollywood players Bloom dealt with over the years. "One of the things I said to Molly at our first meeting was that I'm not going to dish on any of these guys," Sorkin said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. After debating whether or not to keep the Hollywood players in the shadows, faces obscured, the director found his solution. "Then I landed on Player X, this one player who wouldn't have a name and who would do everything plotwise that I needed that character to do," he added.
Perhaps in an effort to keep the Maguire comparisons to a minimum, Cera said he didn't go looking to Bloom's book for inspiration when it came to playing Player X. "I learned everything about Molly and the whole world when I read the script for the first time but as far as developing the character, it was all already alive in the script," Cera told The Hollywood Reporter. Even if Player X really is based on Maguire, it seems as though Cera's performance is not, and is meant to be left open for interpretation.