Date of Birth: August 26, 1991, New York City, New York, USA
Height: 5′ 10″ (1.78 m)
O’Brien was born in New York City, the son of Lisa (née Rhodes), a former actress who also ran an acting school, and Patrick O’Brien, a camera operator. He grew up in Springfield Township, New Jersey, until the age of twelve, when he and his family moved to Hermosa Beach, California. His father is of Irish descent, and his mother is of Italian, English and Spanish ancestry. After graduating from Mira Costa High School in 2009, he considered pursuing sports broadcasting and possibly working for the Mets. At 14, O’Brien began posting original videos onto his YouTube channel. With the videos developing, a local producer and director approached him about doing work for a web series of hers while in his senior year of high school. While working on the webseries, O’Brien met an actor who connected him with a manager. He had planned to attend Syracuse University as a sports broadcasting major, but decided to pursue an acting career.
Before beginning his career in acting, O’Brien produced, directed and starred in a number of comedic short films which he released through his personal YouTube channel. He was also the drummer for the independent rock band Slow Kids at Play.
He went through several auditions before getting one of the main roles in MTV’s Teen Wolf, a series loosely based on the 1985 film of the same name. He had been intended to play Scott, but after reading the script, O’Brien wanted to audition for the part of Stiles instead. After four auditions he was cast. In 2010, he began playing Stiles in the series.
In 2011, O’Brien was introduced to audiences in the entirely improvised independent comedy film High Road, directed by Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder Matt Walsh and co-starring veteran comedic actors Horatio Sanz, Rob Riggle, Abby Elliott, and Lizzy Caplan.
The following year, he starred opposite Britt Robertson in the romantic comedy The First Time, directed by Jon Kasdan. The film premiered in competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was released later that year.
In mid-2013, O’Brien co-starred in Shawn Levy’s comedy film The Internship, with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. He was supposed to star as the lead in DreamWorks’ sci-fi thriller Glimmer, but production could not be pursued owing to scheduling conflicts.
O’Brien played Thomas in the lead role in The Maze Runner, a film adaptation of the novel of the same name, which began filming in summer 2013, while he was on hiatus from Teen Wolf. Yahoo! Movies named O’Brien as one of the 15 Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2014. Filming for the Maze Runner sequel, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, began at the end of October 2014 in New Mexico, and the film was released in September 18, 2015. Both films opened at number-one at the North American box-office during their opening weekend, and, in worldwide terms, constitute the fourth highest-grossing film series based on young-adult books, after the film series of Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga, and The Hunger Games respectively, earning over $660 million with a $95 million total budget. In December 2015, 20th Century Fox picked up the action-comedy Little White Corvette, with O’Brien attached to star.
In March 2016, O’Brien was injured on set while filming a scene for Maze Runner: The Death Cure. O’Brien was in a harness on top of a moving vehicle when he was pulled off the vehicle unexpectedly and hit by another vehicle. His injuries, which included a “concussion, facial fracture and lacerations”, were substantial but not life-threatening. In April 2016, it was revealed that his injuries were “serious” and worse than had been thought, and he would need more time to recover. After a few months of recovery, O’Brien eventually began filming other projects, and the rescheduling of filming dates for the last installment in the Maze Runner series, The Death Cure, by 20th Century Fox in August 2016 marked a complete return to health for him. That same year, he starred with Mark Wahlberg in the disaster thriller-drama Deepwater Horizon, based on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.
In 2017, he will star opposite Michael Keaton in the upcoming CBS Films and Lionsgate Films adaptation of American Assassin, an action-thriller in which he will portray the role of titular character Mitch Rapp.
After sufficient time for his recovery following his on-set accident and rescheduling of filming, 20th Century Fox settled on a February 2017 start date for principal photography for The Death Cure. The film is scheduled to premiere on January 26, 2018.
In 2019, O’Brien guest starred in the comedic sci-fi anthology series Weird City. Upcoming releases include the titular role in the mystery thriller The Education of Fredrick Fitzell, filmed in 2018, and the post-apocalyptic road trip film Monster Problems, in which he will star alongside Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt.
Did you know?
- According to his twitter he is a New York Mets fan.
- Plays drums in the band called “Slow Kids At Play”.
- He is 1/2 Irish, 1/4 Italian, 1/8 English and 1/8 Spanish.
- He began as a YouTube star with his mother as an actress and his father a camera operator.
- He auditioned for MTV’s Teen Wolf, while planning to pursue college. After 4 auditions, he scored the role of Stiles.
- He has one older sister named Julia – they are 16 months apart.