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Running with The Maze Runner Cast

Sep 17, 2013

By: Lynn Barker

Many recent films based upon Young Adult novels pit teens against one another in scary, life or death situations; The Hunger Games series, Divergent, etc. In the film The Maze Runner, based upon the novel by James Dashner, teens are grabbed, their memories wiped and they are forced to escape from a maze full of dangerous creatures and more! Maybe many teens love these novels (some better written than others of course) because they make the daily lives of each reader seem way better!

The group must enter the mazeThe group must enter the mazeCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

The young cast gathered recently at 20th Century Fox studios in L.A. to talk character relationships, stunts, bonding and more. Check out what Dylan O’Brien (of TV’s “Teen Wolf”) who plays Thomas, Will Poulter, Gally, Thomas Brodie/Sangster, Newt, Ki Hong Lee, Minho and Kaya Scodelario, Teresa had to say:

The Gladers discover yet another challengeThe Gladers discover yet another challengeCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q:  Dylan, you’ve had a lot of comedic roles up to this point.  What was it like getting into your first dramatic lead?  And how are you taking that back to the role of Stiles on “Teen Wolf”?

  • Dylan:  It’s just nice to get a chance to do something else and I was really nervous about it at first.  But I did feel right as Thomas. I felt comfortable in that role, but nervous. I had such an amazing cast around me; all guys who I’ve seen like do really good work in the past, both comedic and dramatic.  These guys were attached already. And so, I was just wanting to basically do them justice and do the movie justice. I think I need to practice drama the most for sure. So, it was amazing to get to do this.  And then it’s great to then just be able to go back to Stiles and see that I’ve taken things and just keep switching it up.
  • Will: And he killed it as Thomas (Dylan gives him a “thanks, buddy”).

Dylan O'Brien as ThomasDylan O'Brien as ThomasCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q: Did you feel you needed to honor the characters in the book?

  • Dylan: You want to bring everything you can to the character in the book. I felt like I needed to come from a really honest perspective. I always looked at Thomas as very honest and heroic and a truthful character, especially one who has been re-birthed. He’s a fresh greenie having had his memory wiped and almost redeveloping as a person.
  • Thomas: People have asked about the research that we might do as actors and this was one of the easier roles for a lot of us, in some ways, because our characters don’t have a lot of memories from the past so there isn’t a lot of background. What we are experiencing from living in the Glade is our background. It’s always been our environment in a way being re-birthed. And you’ve got the book to rely on for research. A lot of the job is done for you in a way.

Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and Gally (Will Poulter) wrestleThomas (Dylan O'Brien) and Gally (Will Poulter) wrestleCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q: What were some scenes from the book that weren’t in the movie that you wish were?

  • Dylan: The Beetle Blades (creepy critters programmed to spy) is something in the book I always thought was cool. We even shot that but it didn’t make the final cut for some reason. Thomas sees these things scurrying through the wood.
  • Kaya: I liked the big introduction where it goes into each character and introduces them. Obviously, we didn’t have time to do that. I liked that in the book, you get to see each part of the Glade and how everyone is a part of that and brings something to it.
  • Dylan: I was told that that the full introduction to the Glade would be on the DVD.
  • Will: Apparently along with a twenty minute gag reel. I don’t know if that speaks too well of our professionalism, us cracking and not doing our jobs properly.

Tiny Gladers vs. the giant mazeTiny Gladers vs. the giant mazeCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q:  Aww, but it’s fun! There’s no romance in this movie, which is kind of different than most teen movies.  Was that a relief?  Was that disappointment?

  • Kaya: There’s hormones everywhere else.
  • Ki Hong: In the movie there’s a lot of bromance.
  • Dylan:  Funny enough, we were all in little relationships on the side with each other. And in the film it’s so unromantic.  Me and Kaya have always loved that about our storyline.  It’s so realistic, and we just think it’s so appropriate for the circumstances.  It’s so cinematic to just kind of add a relationship to something where let’s stop and think for a second.  These kids would not just be like smooching and flirting in this situation.  They do have a connection, and they have maybe feelings for one another.

Looking into The PitLooking into The PitCourtesy of 20th Century Fox
  • Kaya: There’s no time.  I think what I liked was the honesty of it.  And as a woman, it was so nice to be able to go into a project and know that I wasn’t going to have to play that side.  I mean, it is a huge part of being a teenager, falling in love for the first time and everything but I feel like we have explored that so much.  And for me, it was interesting to explore a young woman who’s put into a situation where she doesn’t need to make friends.  She’s not trying to make friends with anyone.  She doesn’t need them all to like her.  She’s purely about survival.  And that’s so brave and so kind of against the grain nowadays with female characters in films.  So, I really liked that.  And it’s like Dylan said, there would be no time for them to be like, “Oh, let’s go for a little walk in the forest together.”
  • Dylan: (laughs) There was a little stuff in the original script that we shot where we had little flirty scenes. But as (director) Wes (Ball) did with every part in the film, he made such appropriate cuts and made the movie just never stop moving and took 90 minutes to just focus on exactly what it should be about.  Things like that didn’t make it.  Maybe you’ll see it on the DVD or something like that.  I hope not though.
  • Thomas:  There’s enough love and emotions going around just within The Gladers themselves. I mean not every teenager is in and out of love all the time. I certainly never fell in love as a teenager.  I don’t think I even had a girlfriend as a teenager.  So, I don’t think you have to put that into every teen film.  I personally loved the fact that that was never present.

Thomas talks with TeresaThomas talks with TeresaCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q: If you could take any movie’s ensemble of characters and put them in a maze along with your characters which movie would you take them from?

  • Dylan: They’d have to be very good at running.
  • Will: The Stand By Me fellows would be interesting.
  • Kaya: Can we have some girls, please?
  • Thomas: The Spice Girls, the real ones. Scary Spice! (laughter)

The huge mazeThe huge mazeCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q: Kaya, what was it like to be on set with a bunch of dudes?

  • Kaya: I grew up in London with a mixed group of friends and, as human beings we just got on. I never felt like the only girl and they never changed the way they acted around me which I really respected. They weren’t suddenly really polite when I walked into the room. They were still dirty and rude and fun. We had so much fun. A lot of the boys’ girlfriends and sisters came on set so there were females to interact with.

Kaya Scodelario as TeresaKaya Scodelario as TeresaCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q: Which stunt was the most challenging or fun for you?

  • Will: We had fun doing the wrestling thing.
  • Dylan: Yeah. That was great; one of my favorite scenes in the movie.
  • Will: He loves the physical stuff. He’s really good at that. We were joking around about how apologetic we were during the entire rehearsal about hurting each other. I would push Dylan a little bit “Hey, really push me now!”. He got it out of me.
  • Dylan: Climbing on the vines on a wire was a whole twelve hours a day. I was just hung up on a wire. They would just bring me food and never lower me because it would take a long time. It was real ivy on the walls and the Grievers are jumping on me and one jumps on the wall and they would shake the wall and all this debris rained down. It kept getting in my eyes. Wes would come over to me and literally just take stuff out of my eyes. Before that, I was never comfortable with anyone touching my eyeball but now I am. (cast laughter).

The gang must decide which way to goThe gang must decide which way to goCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q: With all the other roles you have played, which one would survive the best in the maze?

  • Ki Hong: Well, I’ve played a high school student….and another high school student (laughter) so I think it would be one of those. But as me, Ki Hong Lee, if I were in the maze I’d be freaking out. Just put me in the box. I’ll be friends with the pig. I’d be scared.
  • Kaya: The only one I can think of is my character Effy in (TV series) “Skins” and she was just high all the time. She wouldn’t be any use.
  • Ki Hong: She’d be trippin’ out with me!
  • Kaya: (to Thomas) Who did you play in the Beatles thing?
  • Thomas:  Paul McCartney would kill himself.
  • Will: Serenade those Grievers to death.  They’d be like, oh, wow.
  • Dylan: They’re just huge fans of his.
  • Will: I think I literally have not played anyone who isn’t a dork.  Let me think.  Maybe Lee Carter in Son of Rambow when I was really young. I think I was 12 or 13.  I don’t remember.  I would have been like a Griever snack, at that size, just a quick bite, a slider.  Yeah, I think probably maybe Lee Carter.
  • Dylan: I mean Stiles from “Teen Wolf”, I don’t know how well he’d do. But like I have no other really roles to go on. I played a kid called Jimmy in a little movie called High Road.  That was one of the first things I did.

Director Wes Ball talks to Dylan O'Brien on setDirector Wes Ball talks to Dylan O'Brien on setCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q:  There is a lot of running in this. Does anybody run as a sport or are you good runners?

  • Dylan: None of us are marathon runners.  I myself have particularly always hated long distance running.  I love sprinting, though, like for a short amount of time. But I think if anything I’m way more of a sprinter.  And so, this was perfect but also exhausting.
  • Ki Hong: Yes.  There’s a scene in there where I actually pulled my hamstring as I was running. We would literally run all day, 12, 14 hours, in an abandoned parking lot. And there was like rocks and things and everything. And even inside the maze, I fell like three times.
  • Dylan: Dude, the maze was super slippery.  They’d hose it down, and it was you know real mud and stuff in there.
  • Ki Hong: They’re like, “It doesn’t look really hard.  Let’s throw some rocks on it.”
  • Dylan:  You’d just, like, eat it.  We’d have to be full sprint around a turn.  Anytime we had to slightly angle, we’d eat it.  And it wasn’t until like maybe the last week that they got that special stuff to put on the ground. We were like “This is perfect.  We needed this the whole shoot”.

Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and Newt (Thomas Brodie/Sangster)Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and Newt (Thomas Brodie/Sangster)Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q:  Thomas is bold in the movie. What was the moment in your own life, where you felt like you were taking that bold, new step into the unknown?

  • Dylan: I don’t know even know if this counts at all, but I’ve always been super protective of my friends and my family, just people I love in general. When I was younger and more impulsive and less of a fully developed human, I would react physically to situations.  But I remember this time when I was eight years old, and my sister was getting bullied like right in front of me. I just attacked this kid. I chased him around the playground and tackled him and we had a fight.
  • I was crying you know because he was just beating up on my sister basically.  That’s something in me that I have always sort of related just to that scene.  That’s sort of just how I thought about it.  We’re all standing there, and the rules say that we can’t go in after dark.  But Alby and Chuck for Thomas were really like the only two people in his life really at this point.  And he feels no other way than to go in and save one of his friends.  There’s just no other instinct.

The Gladers hold Thomas backThe Gladers hold Thomas backCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q:  Will, you have played a few underdogs. Was it a lot of fun playing the badass in this film?

  • Will: Yeah! You know I’m so grateful that Wes kind of took a punt on me in that kind of respect.  I guess it’s not the most expected casting choice. I really appreciated the chance to play a role different from what I just kind of just played. And I love doing drama and comedy. Like Dyl is somebody who does drama and comedy.  And I mean all these guys, like the entire cast, I feel so blessed to work with them because it’s most versatile group of actors I’ve ever worked with in a kind of ensemble sense.
  • Everyone is so dramatically awesome, and then they’re also sort of able to be so funny when we were all hanging out.  You know?  So, everyone kind of has that in their locker.  So, just for me to kind of just unlock that part was great.  And, Gally’s not like the out and out villain, you know?  We’d tried to kind of make him I guess more of kind of a conflicted character, try and kind of make sure he was a bit more justified in what he was doing and the way he went about his business, a bit more rational than perhaps he was in the book. And that’s something that James [Dashner] was totally cool with, and T.S. [Nowlin, screenwriter] who did the latest passes, was keen to do it in the script.  So, yes, that was fun.  I really enjoyed it.

In The PitIn The PitCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q: Could any of you talk about any memorable fan interactions you’ve had so far?

  • Dylan: I think one of the cool ones was when we were in Baton Rouge, or even a couple hours north when we were shooting The Glade. We were in the middle of nowhere. We got put up at this hotel, and two fans just heard that we were at the hotel and drove all the way out and took picture with us the first night that we were there. In the pictures we were all holding plates of food and we were all so shocked “You’re fans of this movie that we haven’t even shot yet”?  I think that was the first time for me that you know just the strength of the fan base for the book kind of reached out.  And I’ve seen a little more since.
  • Will: Through Twitter as well, we’ve all just had such amazing experiences with the fans.  And right after we all got announced to be involved, people were following us and saying, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re playing Newt, so glad you’re playing Teresa, so glad you’re playing Gally.” It was just crazy to have that level of support. And they are generally very positive fans. We really wanted to get it right for them.  I just hope we’ve done that.
  • Ki Hong:  It doesn’t matter what we tweet about.  It’s always like, “Oh, I can’t wait for The Maze Runner.” It’s awesome. “I’m having a bad day. I can’t for The Maze Runner.  Minho, I love you.  I love you.”  It’s great.

Ki Hong Lee as MinhoKi Hong Lee as MinhoCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Q: They say that teens really connect with these kinds of dystopian stories. What do you think young people will take away from this movie?

  • Dylan: I think what’s different about our story, we are a group of guys and girl who help each other get out of the maze together. We could just as easily kill and eat each other but it’s a story about working together and uniting. We have our strengths and weaknesses so just work together and it will work out.

Maze Runner PosterMaze Runner PosterCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Maze Runner opens in theaters on September 19th!