Dylan O’Brien’s big brown eyes widen as he looks up at a massive concrete cross section of the maze, a living puzzle he’s set to conquer. A large camera zooms in on his face, coated in a thin layer of dirt, as he adjusts the collar of his blue shirt. The now 22-year-old is filming The Maze Runner—Wes Ball’s adventure thriller based on James Dashner’s best-selling YA book of the same name—on location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. From the highway you’d never know that inside this colossal warehouse (a former Sam’s Club), fall’s hottest flick is deep in production.
“We have eight weeks and 30 million dollars,” Dylan says to me, catching his breath between takes, nodding at the massive labyrinth set he just came from. We’re sitting in director’s chairs under a sign that reads pharmacy. He adds, “If we pull it off, people will be like, ‘How the hell did they do that?'” A tight schedule means long, exhausting days and very little sleep for the young star. But he doesn’t mind: “This will forever be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”
It almost never happened, though. Dylan has said that Ball initially thought his hair was “too MTV” for the role. It’s true—Dylan’s MTV ties run deep. He’s beloved to television audiences for his best-friend role as Stiles Stilinski on the network’s hit show Teen Wolf, recently renewed for a fifth season. But he’s not confined to the small screen. “I’ve always wanted to do action movies,” Dylan says. “I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan. And now I know firsthand that if a stunt coordinator offers you a pad to wear or land on, you take the pad. I throw my body around like a rag doll!”