Above: Kaya Scoderlario, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Dylan O’Brien in “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.” Stock Photo.
Creating a beloved movie franchise is no easy task. Especially when the franchise comes from a best-selling book series.
That is just what Director Wes Ball is doing with “The Maze Runner” series. Starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito and Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson, “The Maze Runner” followed a group of teenagers who are trying to escape a maze that they are trapped within.
A year after the first films release, the sequel, “The Scorch Trials,” is already dominating the box office. It was number one at the box office its opening weekend, beating out the Johnny Depp drama “Black Mass.”
After sitting down with the cast, it is clear that their success comes from their teamwork and chemistry. They are nervous and excited for fan reactions to this film and are looking forward to finishing out the series on a high note.
While many would think it would be thrilling to see yourself up on the big screen, the actors actually would rather not.
“I find it terrifying. I hate it. It makes me feel sick,” said Scodelario, who plays Theresa. “When I work, it’s something that I lose a little bit of my soul to. I sacrifice part of myself for that character and I love it. I am terrified of someone else judging it.”
This film introduces the audience to two new characters: Brenda (Salazar) and Jorge (Esposito). Taking on the character of Jorge was a nice change for Esposito, as Jorge is a good guy. Many know Esposito for his bad guy roles on “Once Upon a Time” and “Breaking Bad.”
“I kind of like being the guy who sweeps in and saves the day,” said Esposito. “It’s a change of pace.”
And while the cast from the first film was a tight knit group, they welcomed the newcomers with open arms. While many would wonder if there was a “hazing” ritual, it was actually quite the opposite.
“I hazed myself by learning how to play Mario Kart,” said Salazar. “Even when you learn how to play Mario Kart, you’re so depressed because you’re so terrible. Kaya coached me. She was my sponsor.”
“It was the sweetest hazing ever,” adds O’Brien, who plays Thomas. “It’s like just come play Mario Kart with us.”
One will definitely notice a change of pace in this film, especially with the character of Theresa. Throughout the film, Theresa distances herself from the other “Gladers.” However, Scodelario found it hard to distance herself when the cameras were not rolling.
“Any other job I would’ve distanced myself a little bit more. But I can’t with these guys,” said Scodelario. “They’re my best friends and this job is what keeps me going. We’re so lucky to do a job like this.”
With the series set to end with the next film, “The Death Cure,” Ball is doing something most directors these days choose not to. He will not split the last book into a two-part film and will continue to direct the installment. The cast agrees that three movies are enough.
“I love it,” said O’Brien. “I hate the idea of milking it for all that its worth.”
Taking on a movie franchise is not an easy task, so the actors had to be committed to the time that it would take to film this. While O’Brien and Salazar were up for the challenge and happy for job stability, Scodelario was skeptical at first.
“I was terrified. I read a quote from Keira Knightley about the ‘Pirates’ movies that they’d taken five years of her life and she regretted it,” said Scodelario. “The thought of knowing what I was doing in five years kind of freaked me out.”
When it comes to it though, the cast loves being a family and seeing that translate into the film.
“The movie is really steeped in relationship, steeped in the family that you create and support yourself with,” said Esposito. “[Who else] can you really talk to when you’re in trouble?”
If you have not already seen “The Scorch Trials,” head to a theater now. The movie will not disappoint.
This article first appeared on iPulse on September 27, 2015 and can be found here.