Dylan O'Brien is back in action and heading to the big screen again with the release of his latest movie, American Assassin. In the action thriller, Dylan plays Mitch Rapp, whose fiancée is killed while the couple is on vacation together. He falls into a downward spiral of grief and wants to seek revenge on those who killed the love of his life. He's then enlisted as a black-ops recruit and while he's being trained, it's discovered that a mysterious operative called Ghost is the ringleader behind vicious attacks and as you can already imagine, is the big bad of the film. This movie is non-stop action and for sure a much different character than the lighthearted Stiles Stilinski Teen Wolf fans have come to know and love Dylan for.
"It was fun, you know as an actor you always want to do something different and this to me, it spoke to me immediately. I really just connected with it, I connected to this character and I felt like it was just a great role. Something much different from Stiles too, and I'm always trying to seek new challenges and it seemed like it had the potential to be great and I wanted to be the guy to do it," Dylan exclusively said to J-14 when we caught up with the actor at The Cinema Society & Saved Wines' screening of American Assassin. "I learned a lot about myself through this whole process in general, from what I was coming off of. And then kind of pushing myself to do this film. I felt like I grew up a lot doing this movie and in the last year in a way and all that happened so it's all just a part of me now."
In March of 2016, Dylan went through what is easily one of the scariest things that could ever happen to an actor on set. While he was filming a stunt for the final movie in The Maze Runner trilogy, The Death Cure, he was seriously injured in a stunt gone wrong. He reportedly suffered a concussion, facial fracture, and brain trauma. Production on the movie was halted and Dylan stepped out of the spotlight for half a year.
"I really was in a dark place there for a while and it wasn’t an easy journey back. There was a time there where I didn’t know if I would ever do it again..and that thought scared me, too. In a lot of ways, those six months went by like that. And then, in a lot of ways, I can still remember that six months as if it was five years of my life," Dylan said in an interview with Vulture. "I had lost a lot of function, just in my daily routine. I wasn’t even at a point where I felt like I could handle social situations, let alone showing up and being responsible for work every day. Long hours on set, delivering a performance and carrying a movie… it just makes your palms sweat."
Dylan was already signed on to play the role of Mitch and he hadn't spoken to the production team or the film's director at all during those months he spent away healing and getting better. He then found himself with only two months to physically and mentally prepare to take on this role, which he knew he just had to do.
"I didn’t want to let it go, and I also had this really interesting, deeper connection to this character over the course of those four months because of what I was going through," Dylan continued to Vulture. "I felt like I could portray that and wanted to be the one to do that justice — it was almost like an honor for me at that point. But at the same time, I was still in such a fragile personal state that I had this other force telling me, like, 'No f—g way' that I can do it. 'This is too soon, too soon. Tell them to leave me alone, I need more time.'"
But Dylan kept pushing himself and although he admits there would be times at the gym training for this role he would have a panic attack, with the help of his trainer and having his dad by his side throughout filming, he was able to use this all as fuel for bringing Mitch to life. It also helped that he had the full support of the cast and crew of this movie, especially his co-star Taylor Kitsch, who couldn't help but gush over his co-star when we spoke to him at the screening.
"It was just great [working with Dylan]. He just has energy for days. It's infectious and it was just a lot of fun. We laughed a lot, we get along really well and we both just wanted to make a really entertaining, intense film and I think we did that," Taylor exclusively told J-14. Taylor is forever beloved for his role as Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights, but since then, he's played some rather dark characters. And in American Assassin, it doesn't get more intense than his role as Ghost, who is the ultimate villain in the film.
"I loved it, I literally went out to my buddy's ranch in Texas and just built the character from the ground up. That's really what I did, but it's really a story about three guys and how trauma affects each person so differently," Taylor told us about his role as Ghost. "I love playing bad guys. I don't know what that says about me but I'm okay with that. There's always a bit of badness in everybody right? And I get to bring that out in these characters."
But don't worry, IRL, Taylor is the nicest and he actually still lives in Austin, Texas where FNL was filmed. But if you happen to run into the actor, don't expect him to be able to break out THE Riggins voice.
"I don't even think I can do Riggins accent ever again," he said with a laugh.
Hey, at least the show is on Netflix so you can get your Tim fix anytime you want. You can see Dylan and Taylor on-screen together when American Assassin hits theaters on Septemeber 15.