We posted part 1 of the interview with director Wes Ball, executive producer Wyck Godfrey, actor Dylan O’Brien, and author James Dashner, back in August, and here are highlights from the rest of that interview, done by Kimmy at Page to Premiere.
At the panel yesterday, we saw the clip of you coming up in the box. You were saying that you had a very specific idea of how you wanted that to look. Can you talk about how you decided how that was going to work?
Wes Ball: Well you didn’t get to see it in the box, so wait til you see the trip up. The trip up is going to be very cool. It’s the first thing I ever pre-vized. It’s an experience; it’s like a ride. It’s like a ride at Disney World or something. The lights go off, and suddenly, “Boom!” It comes on, and the thing comes to life, and you find yourself in this crazy world. He suddenly wakes up, like, “What the hell? Where am I?” I don’t explain anything at all, there’s just this crazy sound; it’s going faster and faster and faster. It’s rising, like, “Where the hell is it taking me?” So finally, it just hits this buzzer, and then it hits its stop, and then, “Boom!” The doors open up, and we are in the movie. It’s gonna be a very cool experience. I don’t even want credits up front. I just want them to start, and then, “Boom!” We’re in the box with Thomas as the audience, and experiencing it through his eyes.
James Dashner: Which perfectly captured the vision of the book and how the books go. I mean, he was the perfect choice to direct this movie. I think this is historic that we’re talking about this, because like six or seven months before they even started filming, he sent me his concept video for that scene he just described, and I knew that he was the best.
Wes Ball: It’s very dark, you know, it’s rattly and rusty. It’s cool, it’s neat. I’m really excited to get into that. But obviously we couldn’t build a 500 foot tall elevator shaft, so there was a lot of CG. But Dylan got beat up pretty good in that elevator cage.
Wyck Godfrey: Yeah, unfortunately, we built the cage out of like real rusty metal. So Dylan’s shooting over and over again, like trying to get out of this thing, and literally his hands are bleeding. We’re like, “Oh yeah, maybe we should have probably treated this. That’s all right, it’s just Dylan. Don’t worry about it.”
Wes Ball: Fortunately, by that point, that was like day 40 of 43. Suck it up man, let’s go.
Dylan O’Brien: At that point we were all the way in, I didn’t care.
Wes Ball: [points at a scar on Dylan’s arm] That’s probably from Maze Runner!
Dylan O’Brien: Yeah, my moles got ripped off! I have these two signature moles not signature, like [laughs] as if anyone else would know them! Like I always remember seeing these two moles here. They were very much a part of my arm, right here. They just got ripped off, one day!
James Dashner: It’s in a baggie, I’ll sell it on Ebay. [laughs]
Wes Ball: I did a proper job of beating up Dylan O’Brien in this movie.
Dylan O’Brien: I wish my back was actually still all the way bad from the last day of shooting, because it would have been the funniest to just come here and lift my shirt…and…
Wyck Godfrey: “Look at what they did to me!”
Wes Ball: He always did it with a smile.
James Dashner: You did see those incredible images of him in the box, and I love that. Gally jumping down! That’s just going to be such a cool scene.
Dylan O’Brien: Day 1, Greenie.
James Dashner: You were probably watching the screen and not me, but my eyes were all moist.
Wes Ball: We only showed like 10%, man. A lot of the big stuff I can’t show because it’s all the effects.
Read the rest of Part 2 of the interview here.
Can you talk about the hero’s journey or the writing structure of your book?
James Dashner: Sometimes it’s hard for me to articulate the process going into writing. Normally, I just
follow my instincts. But I have loved movies and have loved books my whole life, so I think it’s just in my brain. But Thomas definitely goes through the hero’s journey, and I wanted the reader to experience that with him, which is why the first 30 or 40 pages are kind of disoriented; you don’t know what’s going on.
Wyck Godfrey: You should talk about how you view the movie as an extended metaphor.
Wes Ball: It’s kind of corny, but I always did think about it as… The way we approach Thomas arriving in this world, to come up almost naked and soaking wet and confused and disoriented and you don’t know where you are, it’s very much like being born. So they’re spit out into this world with no identity or who they are and all this stuff. There’s this idea that you’re born into this place you can call it a house surrounded by walls. They are your protection. They’re there to keep you in this place. Everything outside those walls is dangerous: don’t go out there. It’s like your parents telling you you can’t go outside the door and all that stuff. So I think this movie is very much around that period in your life when you’re ready to leave the nest, essentially, and face the dangers that are beyond this world: those monsters, the different paths you can possibly take outside the walls… So that kind of metaphor, I think, is an obvious one.
And then I think it’s movie two, where I always kind of saw it as essentially, you’re going into high school or you’re going to college. You’re kind of on your own and get into your own trouble now, but there’s still a little bit of that, if you know the stories at all, there’s still a little bit of that parental, sort of adult supervision over top of you. And then the third movie’s really about, you know, you’re on your own to figure out your own life, and all that stuff.
So, I kind of broke it up in my mind. That was kind of the journey, I guess, that we would take on this movie. We didn’t do anything heavyhanded with it, but it’s good to have in the back of your mind what you’re trying to tap into, you know. There’s a lot of stuff with like, when Thomas comes up, the classic things you go through when you first go into high school or whatever it is. There’s a lot of those sort of familiar emotions. It’s kind of obvious stuff.
Can you talk about the development process at all?
Wyck Godfrey: I came in even after Wes was on it, and he really should speak to the development, because he and his best friend from college T.S. Nowlin kind of rehashed the script, and then I was a part of it for the last 8 weeks or 3 months, really. But it was fun. We kind of took the script apart while we were on location and rebuilt it, and the studio was really great about giving us the power. I think the one thing that I tried to do when I came in was make Wes understand how important the source material was.
Wes Ball: Make sure, because you can kind of veer away and not know it. He would always be like, “Remember this, and remember this scene!” And you’re like, “Oh yeah, you’re right! Okay, we’ll put that back in.”
Wyck Godfrey: And that would be the thing, is just making sure… You can expand upon the book, but you also want to get those scenes that you know the audience loves and get them right. That was really what I tried to help with. But Wes deserves most of the credit in terms of really creating the script.
Read the rest of part 3 of the interview here.
After you read the book, or after you read the script, is there a scene that stood out and you’re like, “I’m really excited to shoot that scene.”
Dylan O’Brien: Yeah, so many.
Wes Ball: There are some very, very cool scenes in the movie.
Dylan O’Brien: Yeah, so many cool scenes.
Wes Ball: It almost seems like at least every couple days, Dylan would say, “Oh, I’m so looking forward to this scene. I’ve been thinking about it since I first read it.” You can tell. There’s like an excitement, and Dylan wants to do a really good job on this one scene. And what surprised me is it wasn’t the physical stuff. The stuff you really liked was all the quiet little one-on-one with the actors scenes. They were some of the best scenes in the movie, I think, surprisingly.
James Dashner: I’ve got to say, that scene from where you literally did not say anything, and it was powerful. You don’t even know what scene I’m talking about. I don’t want to say what it is.
Wyck Godfrey: Dylan’s really great when he doesn’t speak.
Wes Ball: He’s best when he doesn’t talk, I’ll tell you that right now.
James Dashner: I think that when he speaks, he’s even better.
Wes Ball: There are just a lot of cool scenes in this movie. Especially the trip up! It’s a cool scene. You know, meeting Chuck for the first time, it’s a cool scene. Getting the tour by Alby, that moment of going through the walls and the doors close, all these little cool moments, and we really try to milk them for all they’re worth. It was a lot of fun. It’s really, really cool.
The Glade was actually a place, but then the maze was on a blue screen. Can you talk about the experience of shooting both different parts?
Dylan O’Brien: Yeah, it was so funny because we started out in the Glade for four weeks, and we had this like crazy environment where everything was…
Wes Ball: Rustic.
Dylan O’Brien: Yeah, geographically… It was so real, and down and dirty, and sweaty, and gross, and snakey, and spiders, and forest flies, and everything. We were in the dirt. And we would have this huge blue screen that looked so tall all over the place, and we would just put that wherever we needed. And then we went to the stage, and all of a sudden, it’d just be like me in a land of blue. Maybe a wall or something. Or we’d be in a parking lot with just a giant blue screen on the side of the highway. That was awesome.
Wes Ball: It’s a weird exposition. Both the shifts and the location and worlds that we do in this movie. I don’t think I even really understood it when I first went into this thing. It’s like, we go from this rustic prairie, this environment of the Glade, to almost ancient stone walls and concrete to the WICKED labs. And then, out to the desert area…it’s weird. We just cross through these weird juxtapositions. It’s fun. It was like every day, we’re doing something crazy and new. It made for a good time.
Read the rest of part 4 of the interview here.
There’s more of the interview with Page to Premiere interview in part 2, part 3, and part 4.