Last fall, Fangirlish had the pleasure of visiting the set of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico. We spent the day at I-25 Studios, watching several scenes be filmed and sitting down with the cast, director Wes Ball, and more key figures to get the inside scoop on The Scorch Trials. We’ll be sharing everything that we learned on set in the weeks to come, so stay tuned and get ready for Scorch.
The Scorch Trials represents a complete expansion of the Maze Runner universe – not just in terms of the physical landscape, though that is a major element of it, but also the cast of characters. The core group of Gladers we fell in love with in The Maze Runner, led by Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), will of course return to face the Scorch. But we will also encounter a variety of fresh faces, from Aris (Jacob Lofland) – a survivor from another Maze – to Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar), along with other residents of the Scorch.
One common theme of any Maze Runner interviews is that the cast truly consider each other to be family. Though the cast is quite a bit larger in The Scorch Trials, that camaraderie carried over – and for Dexter Darden (Frypan) that’s all down to Director Wes Ball. “[Wes] is just that loving human being who knows how to focus and when it’s time to work, but he’s always been one of the kindest people, so when it comes to his cast he just kind of selects people who are extensions of him. Everybody just fit right in, and it’s kind of special, but it’s weird how it happens like that. I know how you hear that all the time, but with us it’s really a true story. Whenever we’re in LA, whenever we’re in London, we’re all hanging out – so Rosa and Jacob [Lofland] just fell right in, and they fit the mold perfectly.”
Wes also commented on the importance of the casting process for making the Maze Runner movies so great and maintaining strong working relationships among the cast. He worked in conjunction with Casting Director Denise Chamian, the producers, and 20th Century Fox to “make really unique choices, hopefully, [going] not necessarily for names or faces but really good actors.”
Though of course some of the new additions are quite well-known – Game of Thrones‘ Aidan Gillen and Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito, for instance – the final decisions came down to acting ability. “I think [that] all the people that we picked are well-respected. They’re all well-known as great actors. That’s the most important thing, beyond anything, is finding good people that are great at their craft,” Ball said.
Book readers, be prepared – sometimes finding the right actor means slight visual changes from James Dashner’s novels. “In terms of visual stuff, we might be pushing things a little bit differently than the book,” Ball said. “It’s like, Rosa still obviously has her brown hair and brown eyes, but there might be some other things that are a little different. It’s casting. It’s finding someone who can bring something unique to the role and own it and make it feel real, and I think that’s what we’ll get.”
Brenda is one of the characters fans are most eager to see brought to life on-screen this time around. We shared Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario’s (Teresa) thoughts on the character, played by Rosa Salazar, earlier this week. But what did Director Wes Ball and the rest of the cast have to say about her and the other new additions?
As far as Wes Ball is concerned, Brenda is “awesome.” Many book readers already adore her tough, capable nature and how she shakes up the dynamic of the Gladers, and Wes assured us that we’ll see all the things we love about Brenda on-screen – and more. “She’s going to be fantastic. It’s Rosa Salazar – she’s a relative newcomer, I guess, but she’s really good and I think there will be some surprises in store for her. People aren’t quite expecting what we’re gonna do. But she’s pretty much true to the book, actually: she’s this kind of tough, feisty kid that survives out in the ruins with Jorge, and [there’s] a blossoming sort of relationship between her and Thomas. She’s gonna be very capable and very determined, but also very easy to fall in love with.”
The returning Gladers were also eager to welcome fresh faces to the Maze Runner family. “It’s been great,” Alex Flores (Winston) said. “We have so many new people. We’ve been getting new people daily, almost. You just see names pop up that you’ve grown up watching, like Lili Taylor and everything. And you know, we have our Brenda, and she’s really cool. And the kid who plays Aris, Jacob Lofland, is such a sweetheart. It’s so nice to have all these new people just come in and automatically be a part of the family – and [for us to] be able to have fun with them, too, and not feel like we’re walking on eggshells, like, ‘Oh, we have this, and now we have you.’ But no, it’s just one complete family.”
Thomas Brodie-Sangster agreed, and was excited for the new feel the new cast members would add to the film. “[It’s] exciting – it’s nice to welcome a bunch of new people into the world,” he said. “I’m sure that it’s gonna add a kind of injection of new energy and just naturally give a different vibe and feel and drive to the film that I think is quite exciting.”
Meet the new members of the Maze Runner family in ‘The Scorch Trials,’ in theaters TOMORROW, September 18.
Which new ‘Scorch Trials’ character are you most excited to “meet” on-screen?
Interviews have been edited for clarity.