Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials promises to be one seriously intense film. The trailers and clips released thus far have been jam-packed with action, impressive stunts, intrigue, and enemies on all sides. Fangirlish took part in a roundtable interview with stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, and Dexter Darden, during which the cast teased the movie’s most badass moments, the stunts they are most proud of, and more.
Fans who have watched the trailer for The Scorch Trials have already been treated to tantalizing teases of explosions, daunting sand dunes, and the generally harsh conditions that await the Gladers in this Maze Runner sequel. But what you may not know is that the cast endured a lot of these intense environments themselves. “That’s really us. That’s not CGI, that’s not special effects, that’s not stunt doubles – that’s us running up them sand dunes,” Dexter Darden said. Darden and Kaya Scodelario named running up the sand dunes as the stunts they are most proud of – and anyone who has ever tried to do just that can attest that it is far from easy.
This cast is undeniably one to give their all to filming, acquiring numerous injuries over the course of filming and training both for stunts and altitude adjustment. “We went [to Albuquerque, New Mexico] two weeks prior to shooting, and we trained with stunt coordinators,” Ki Hong Lee said. “We ran five miles; we went and did springs in the sand dunes; and we’d go up hills and stuff like that.” Though Kaya hilariously questioned Ki Hong’s description of this training regimen (“I didn’t run five miles. Did you do five miles?”), the rigor of filming and the complications of Albuquerque’s high altitude were no joke. Dexter and Ki Hong filled us in on the physical requirements of filming in New Mexico:
Ki Hong: “Tell ’em, Dex, what’s the altitude like?”
Dexter: “Well, in Albuquerque, it’s the Mile High City, so it’s -”
Ki Hong: “How many feet?”
Dexter: “5,200 feet above sea level. At times, we’d be like 7,600 feet, even between 8,000 feet above sea level.”
Ki Hong: “That’s high. That’s high.”
Dexter: “So it’s hard to get oxygen. You know, your muscles get tight.”
Ki Hong: “Gotta stay hydrated.”
Dexter: “Gotta stay hydrated.”
Speaking of working in tough conditions, Ki Hong – who casually described the fallout of filming as only “minor scrapes and bruises” – actually did some of his most intense scenes after having surgery, as Kaya Scodelario revealed. “Don’t downplay it, dude! You are amazing,” she said. “Ki Hong had an appendectomy, and then he had to shoot when he gets tasered and dragged off [afterwards],” Dylan O’Brien explained. Dylan also worked through an injury himself, having sprained his wrist playing softball a few weeks prior to filming. “I just kept re-injuring it on Scorch, so it was annoying me,” he said. “I very randomly punched something – with the other wrist.”
The intense filming conditions will pay off in the form of incredible acting, imagery, and stunts in The Scorch Trials. The cast teased their personal picks for the film’s most badass moments that fans can look forward to seeing next month. Dexter Darden was quick to answer with Ki Hong’s knee to the chest of an adversary, an undeniably badass moment that you can catch a glimpse of in the trailer. “Yeah, knee to the chest was banging, man,” Kaya said. “Yeah, that’s awesome. Knee to the chest is money,” Dylan O’Brien added.
Kaya and Dexter also referenced Dylan’s baseball slide underneath a closing door and the Gladers breaking a window with guns (as seen in the trailer), as well as a scene in which the Gladers hang upside-down – not a fun shooting experience, but one that is sure to result in a very visually dynamic scene. “I wasn’t excited to shoot it, but I was excited to see how it was going to look,” Darden said. “When Wes sent out an email to all of us as a cast, he was like, ‘Hey guys, start hanging upside-down.’ Of course, none of us did it. Then we get there and we were actually being hoisted up all at the same time and hanging upside-down, so it was a bit brutal to go through.” O’Brien spent the longest time upside-down – just over five minutes (and if you’ve ever tried hanging upside-down, you’ll know just how insane that is). “It was Giancarlo’s [Esposito] coverage, so I was kind of just passing out,” Dylan said, laughing.
Dylan’s favorite badass moment was actually the filming process behind an equally intense scene involving Thomas and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) escaping from oncoming enemies. “We did one where Rosa’s getting me out of there and they’re shooting at us, and they shoot all these bullets through the windows as we’re running by,” O’Brien said. “It was really scary! The guys have paintball guns, and they have these zerks that they shoot that then go pst when they hit. And I mean, it’s a paintball gun, like coming through glass. You can only see our shadows going through, and then they were just gonna basically shoot a bunch and miss us the whole time. I was like, ‘Well, how are you gonna…?’ I didn’t understand that I wasn’t gonna get hit, and so it was truly scary for me. And then I remember afterwards just looking at the shot and being like, ‘Oh my god!’ I was geeking out.”
In addition to facing off against enemies both human and… less so in this sequel, the Gladers must survive the elements in the harsh dystopian world of the Scorch. One scene book readers are definitely looking forward to seeing involves the Gladers waking up in the desert and having to outrun an insane electrical storm, during which one of them is struck by lightning. “I think the lightning scene came out really cool,” Dexter Darden said, revealing that this scene, too, was almost as intense to film as it will look on-screen. “It was cool, too, because on the day we tried shooting a couple, and Wes was telling us what we were gonna react to, and I don’t think it was coming out as real and as natural as he wanted. So we did one take – or two takes, I think – when [flashes] would just kind of go off at random. They were like little fireworks – they weren’t really big things, but even when they go off you hear that pop, you know? It’s a natural reaction to kind of react to it, and that was really cool.” “Yeah, you would go, ‘Oh shit!'” Kaya Scodelario added. “Yeah, that would be me. Like, *screams.* Just scream like a little girl,” Darden said.