“Getting to play a character over a lengthy period of time is always a pleasure, especially if you like the character.” – Dylan O’Brien
American Assassin star Dylan O’Brien is making a successful return to acting after suffering a major injury on the set of The Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Speaking with Moviefone, O’Brien talks about his on-set injury and working with Michael Keaton in American Assassin.
O’Brien selects his roles based on a number of criteria. He explains, “For me, the decision always comes down to if I want to dive into this role, if I want to be the guy to tell this story, if I feel that the script and story are strong, if I feel like the filmmaker is strong. It’s everything but, really.”
In addition, O’Brien has played characters for lengthy periods of time — both in Teen Wolf and in the Maze Runner series of movies. He enjoys it, saying, “Getting to play a character over a lengthy period of time is always a pleasure, especially if you like the character. You grow attached to them in a certain way. I’ve felt that way with Stiles, the Teen Wolf character I play — and my Maze Runner character, too. It gets a little sentimental when you bid them farewell. It’s like, ‘Oh, wow — this is my last day on set as this guy.'”
Sadly, O’Brien sustained a serious injury on the set of The Maze Runner: The Death Cure that put his career on hold for months as he recovered. He explains, “I shied away from the whole thing, at first. When you go through something like that, it was a really scary thing that I was lucky to come away from. Everything inside of me, for months, was telling me to run away from stuff.”
However, O’Brien sees his injury experience as a teaching moment for the industry at large. He continues, “Ultimately, it was a good thing because it motivated everybody to do it in the right way. When you’re dealing with things like this on a set — and I’ll always preach this for as long as I live after going through what I went through — but safety is paramount. I think sometimes that gets lost in the fold a little bit. People can get lost in that little world you’re in on a set, and you’re making believe and it’s all fake. But people can still get hurt — and you’re dealing with really serious things. I go about it all differently now. I’m very meticulous with the stunts that I am asked to do, and I feel like I don’t have to do anything I’m not comfortable with doing. It’s a good thing for people to be aware of, and have a really safe shoot, which is what we did.”
O’Brien has high praise for his American Assassin co-star Michael Keaton, whom he learned a lot from on set. He reveals, “I think why younger actors do that a lot is, for me, is it’s fascinating to see a guy who you’ve watched forever, and the amount of performances you’ve seen of his that you think are brilliant, it’s then really brilliant to see how they go about achieving that. You want to see what their process is like. It could be any version of it. Whenever I’ve gotten to work with guys who are pretty prominent, prolific actors, I always observe how they are. Keaton is funny. He’s been great for so many decades and he’s not a psychopath. You can achieve that greatness by being smart and having a good work ethic and can still be a good human. That’s the biggest thing I took away from watching him.”