The Maze Runner screenwriter James Dashner and star Dylan O’Brien, who plays Thomas in the upcoming film based on Dashner’s trilogy of young adult novels, stopped by the CBR Tiki Room at WonderCon 2014 in Anaheim to chat about bringing the book to life. After spending so much time with the characters in his head, Dashner talks about what it’s like to see them become real and whether the reality lives up to his imagination, as well as what he was most interested in the film getting right. O’Brien then talks about how his future filmmaking inclinations and how that affects the roles he takes and people he works with. Things wrap up with O’Brien divulging just how much of himself he brought to the role of Thomas and whether seeing Thomas played in a certain way will affect how Dashner plans to write him if the book series continues.
On whether the film version matches up to the vision Dashner had in his head when writing the novels: “Honest, total truth, is I cannot believe how much they matched my vision,” said Dashner. “I’ve just been pleasantly surprised, shocked, over and over how spot-on they’ve been with the script, the maze itself, the blade — I just could not be more thrilled, and I’m not just blowing smoke. It’s awesome.”
On what one thing was most important for Dashner that the film get right: “For me it was always that they captured the spirit of the book. I am totally fine with making the changes because a book is not the same as a film,” said Dashner. “But I wanted them to capture the spirit of it, which was the relationships of the characters, the mystery of it — just the ‘what the hell’s going on’ feel to it — and, man, I think they just nailed it.”
On what O’Brien, who wanted to be a cinematographer before becoming an actor, learned about filmmaking from working on the movie: “A lot that goes into my decision-making and where my heart goes is obviously the story and the role, but also the filmmaker I’d be working with,” said O’Brien. “Wes [Ball], this is his first movie, and literally all it took was me having a lunch with him, a couple hours one day before I even had the part, and he just completely sold me on the movie and made me want to work with him because he was insanely smart and he gets movies and really gets storytelling. And also, he’s just like a talented genius with visual effects and, you know, he’s an artists. I really wanted to work with him because as much as the acting is important to me, the other side, the technical aspect, is important as well. I want to direct one day and I always want to be working with guys who I’m learning from everyday on set. Wes entirely that guy for me on this movie. I think one day I’ll be, ‘I was lucky to be in Wes Ball’s first film.’”