Dylan O'Brien on Stepping into New Action Role Months After He Was Badly Injured on Set of Maze Runner
O’Brien, 25, was in the end stages of recovery when he began filming American Assassin, for which he went through intense combat training. Now, the actor admits he was hesitant to take on the physically demanding role so soon after he was hit by a car on the set of Maze Runner: The Death Cure.
“The state that you’re in after something like that, you just want to run from all that stuff,” O’Brien told Entertainment Tonight. “I didn’t really even want to leave my couch necessarily when I was allowed to. So, yeah. It was a big step doing this.”
In March 2016, O’Brien suffered a “concussion, facial fracture and lacerations” after being hurled from a moving vehicle and hit by another car, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Production was halted in late April and O’Brien stayed out of the spotlight for months, emerging last August with a thick beard and longer hair.
The actor told ET that the new movie helped with his recovery and return to the public.
“I ultimately decided that I wanted to try it and I didn’t want to let it go,” he said. “[American Assassin] ended up being really instrumental in the whole process.”
O’Brien stars in the action thriller as Mitch Rapp, a black ops recruit who begins tracking terrorists after his fiancée is killed in an attack. Rapp is trained by a veteran spy played by Michael Keaton.
Keaton told ET that he and the rest of the cast members were sure to be conscientious of O’Brien’s injury as they filmed, as not to hinder his recovery.
“I didn’t want to talk to him about it or bug him about it or remind him,” the 65-year-old said of O’Brien and the injury. “But I had to know how close he could get, how close he can’t get, what side do I flip him on, because I don’t want him to hit that area.”
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He added: “So it made it harder but, in a way, it was better. You had to be very specific about every move you made.”
Still, despite his initial hesitation O’Brien said he loved preparing for the film – including the fight and gun training.
“At the time that I came in … I was still at the very end of recovery there when I started, so that was probably the biggest challenge,” he said. “All the training was very good for my mind and very good for recovery, in a way.”
He added: “It really ended up being [therapeutic]. It came at a great time for me.”
American Assassin hits U.S. theaters on Sept. 15.