Dylan O’Brien can recall the precise moment he broke the internet. It was during the summer of 2021, when he was filming TikTok videos sporting a Balenciaga shirt, a platinum blond buzzcut, and a temporary snake tattoo slithering up his forearm. The actor’s fans went rabid, fawning over his new look. But the thing is, that wasn’t him—the Dylan O’Brien who prefers to keep his appearance, as he puts it, “plain” and “accessory-less”—that was a character for the upcoming social media satire, Not Okay.
He looks back on that transformation like a scientist examining an otherworldly specimen under Twitter’s global microscope. “I was still exactly who I was,” the actor says. “And then I just put on this video game skin, and people were like, ‘That’s what we want you to look like.’” But before that can be interpreted as a gloomy statement on how the world would perhaps prefer O’Brien emulate Pete Davidson, he breaks out into a wholesome smile. “I thought I looked awesome! I’ve never looked so cool.”
It’s somewhat understandable why O’Brien’s fans were so pleasantly surprised. The actor rose to fame as a dorky sidekick in cult smash series Teen Wolf, then ascended even higher as a straight-laced, affable leading man in The Maze Runner franchise and Love & Monsters. He’s equally as down-to-earth when he joins our Zoom call from his home in Los Angeles. Dressed in a white t-shirt (sans accessories), he’s quick to lighten the mood even when the topic of conversation threatens to turn serious.
O’Brien’s latest film, the ’50s gangster whodunnit The Outfit, sees him explore the murkier depths of morality, a side of him rarely exhibited since Stiles Stilinkski was possessed by an ancient spirit at Teen Wolf’s peak. (Unless you count his turn as the scarf-stealing boyfriend in Taylor Swift’s All Too Well short film.) “There was something really special about this script,” he says, remembering that when he read it for the first time on a plane he “stood up and clapped.” Soon after landing, he emailed an audition tape straight to director Graham Moore, a method he admits to having a very low success rate. (So far, it’s worked only once.) “I’ve definitely done that before when I feel particularly passionate about something,” he explains. “But it’s a line you don’t want to [cross]. I don’t want to beg for things. You want to be wanted. It’s weird how this business works, it’s like dating,” he jokes, bursting into laughter. “You have to play hard to get.” [More at Source]
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