British actors in book-turned-movie The Maze Runner talk about special bonds they made while filming
The Maze Runner may be the latest Young Adult (YA) novel to be adapted for the big screen, but unlike its other YA-turned-movie contemporaries, the flick had a meagre production budget and it does not star any big names (by Hollywood A-list standards).
That said, the under-the-radar movie stars may well become household names.
The Maze Runner's plot is also a deviation from the norm, focusing on brotherhood and camaraderie rather than a love triangle.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster, 24, and Will Poulter, 21, are known faces in the UK and at the film's press junket at the swanky SLS hotel you could be forgiven for thinking they had been best friends since birth.
The duo talked to M about their new-found friendship with fellow cast members and what makes The Maze Runner so different.
You guys seem pretty close. So you still hang out outside of all this?
Thomas: Yeah, very much so. I mean, just for this brief tour we're doing in LA, Alex Flores (he plays Winston) who lives in New York flew over just so that he could come see us and hang out.
This happens all the time - we were just chilling at the beach yesterday.
Does that usually happen in the movies you guys make?
Will: No. We've both had the experience of being a part of an ensemble cast before, but this is unique.
You naturally get quite close to the people you work with, but it's rare that you stay in touch for such a long time afterwards.
What do you think was different with this film that made you do that?
Thomas: I think Wes (Ball, the director) worked very hard to get people who could do the roles well rather than just go for a face or name.
On top of that, I think we just lucked out with the fact that we just all got on. We're all quite different in our own ways.
What was it like being introduced to each other?
Will: It was fantastic. We were all introduced three weeks before filming. We were reading through scenes together during our time off and even cooking for each other.
Thomas: We'd all cook a dish and then go to a room together and eat.
Will: We'd drink beer together and watch basketball, so that's how we all came together naturally. It wasn't forced or through contrived bonding exercises.
How did it relate to your own school experiences?
Thomas: Did you have Grievers (creatures that live in the maze and hunt the runners) at your school?
Will: I didn't have Grievers…but I had some teachers that would have given them a run for their money.
No, I was very lucky in that I had a good school experience and made some great friends. So it was weird for me to play a bully.
Gally isn't really a villain, but he has bully-ish qualities. I enjoyed playing the character a lot.
How is it being a young actor in Hollywood?
Will: I don't feel like we are in a Hollywood world, particularly with this movie because it was shot in Louisiana (in southern US).
It's sort of an old school idea and the reality of modern film-making is that not a lot gets made in Hollywood any more. It's the home of all the studios, but it's not where I go to work.
I think for all of us, the focus is on the acting and how we portray our characters.
Do you have any desire to move to the US to further your careers?
Thomas: I was born and bred in London.
It's a city that's great to get out of, as any city is, and I'm happy that I have a job that allows me to do that.
But then it's really nice to go back home and have those home comforts.
I get recognised from time to time, but I don't feel as if it really affects me too much. There will be one night where it's nonstop and then another night where no one knows me.
It still stems from Love Actually and that was 12 years ago. So I've kind of grown up with that and learned how to deal with it.
Will, you were one of the first to be cast...
Will: I don't recommend casting me first; I thought that was quite a brave choice on their part.
I think I committed to it because it was a fresh take on a potentially withered genre.
There are a lot of films in the YA, dystopian bracket, and I felt that The Maze Runner had a fresh approach to that. It wasn't looking to imitate or ride off the back of the success of others.
Thomas: I auditioned and I didn't hear back for like three months. So I kind of let it go.
But I kept on eye on it through IMDb (Internet Movie Database) to see who was cast and stuff. Then I got the part.
I thought what was cool is that it's about normal guys coming together and having this kind of love for each other without it being seen as a weakness; it's actually their strength. That idea is quite original.