After his star-making turn as Thomas in the global hit “The Maze Runner,” actor Dylan O’Brien relished the chance to live out the next stage of the character’s complex life.
When last seen, Thomas and the remaining Gladers have escaped the terrifying maze to join other survivors in a world mysteriously ravaged by nature and disease. However, like many youths leaving the safe but oppressive confines of one place, the choice can prove a sobering force of reality. For O’Brien, that transition is an equally powerful motivator for an actor seeking challenging material.
“Thomas transitions from being a boy to a man,” O’Brien says,” “and he becomes a leader. To the Gladers, he represents hope. He shoulders the responsibility for what’s happened to his fellow Gladers. Thomas convinced them to go for it and escape from the maze. Now they enter this world that’s not necessarily what they thought it would be. He promised his friends that leaving the maze was the right move – it was going to save them. So Thomas must carry that weight because he now realizes that they aren’t safe. It might even be worse for them out there in the Scorch, and in the hands of WCKD, essentially. So it’s now about him having to deal with that and staying strong.”
Staying strong also meant staying focused and fit as “The Scorch Trials” proved a much different animal to film for many of the cast this time. Sprained wrists or minor fractures aside, O’Brien was thrilled at taking the character – and the audience – to the next level of excitement.
“This movie was as rigorous,” O’Brien continued, “if not more so, than the first one! I never thought that was possible. It’s beyond just the running. Now we’re racing through sandstorms, trudging up dunes and battling Cranks!”
Here’s more with the rising star as O’Brien reveals a bit more of what “The Scorch” represents, how he tapped into his inner hero and why fans should be prepared to be “blown away” by this exciting new chapter in the “Maze Runner” saga.
QUESTION: Dylan, you’re quite a bit of the heavy lifting in “The Scorch Trials” as Thomas goes through quite an emotional journey. What was that like for you as an actor?
DYLAN O’BRIEN: It’s great. I’ve lived with a character for a few years on television, but with movies it’s different. You have the experience with the character, but then it’s over. You don’t really get a chance to go back and do more or have him grow. It’s really cool that you get to have fun with the first film and then come back and see what’s in store for you in the second one. As physical a journey it is for Thomas, it really is an emotional one at the core of it. What’s constantly driving him, I think, is his heart. As an actor, it’s always fun because I get to do so much. I think any actor would love to do roles like this. You have the relationships between the characters, the story’s there and then there’s also the action. It’s a cool movie.
QUESTION: Director Wes Ball’s interpretation of the maze in the first film was pretty spectacular. But “The Scorch Trials” has a much different look and feel. How devastating is that vision of the outside world?
DYLAN O’BRIEN: I feel like even book fans are going to be blown away by what Wes did with the world and his interpretation of it. It’s like as if it couldn’t get worse, you know? They were in the maze in the first one and that’s dangerous and treacherous in and of itself. It was a life threatening experience. [LAUGHS]. But at least it’s contained and they knew what to do there. They had veterans who have been doing it for years and they know the maze and they know when to not go in. Everyone had their own routine. There’s no routine now. There’s nothing. They also don’t know anything that’s coming their way and there’s not just one Greenie. Everyone’s all of a sudden back to Greenie again. If only Thomas has just led them right! [LAUGHS].
QUESTION: But Thomas is certainly a leader now.
DYLAN O’BRIEN: That’s what I loved about the first movie. I loved getting to play a kid who has no memory, so he can entirely reinvent himself. Because he really has no recollection or affiliation to his prior self, he discovers a leader within himself. There probably wasn’t much of a chance for that to happen in his other life or what he can remember of it. It’s part of why I love him, you know? I love getting to play this guy who completely faced his fear.
QUESTION: Once the group is out into “The Scorch,” some life changing things happen to the entire group. How dire is their situation? Can hope be found in such a wasteland?
DYLAN O’BRIEN: Thomas believes so strongly in what he believes in. Providing hope is something that he strives to do. He’s never thought about it like that before though. He never thought of himself as doing any harm or anything bad. He always thought he was doing good and that hope was a good thing. How can it not be? I think it’s interesting to him when Rosa says to him that hope can be dangerous. As if it can’t get any worse for the guy! [LAUGHS] It makes him check himself once again.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is now available on Blu-ray and Digital
Download from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.