Last December Screen Rant was part of a small group of outlets selected visit the Albuquerque, New Mexico set of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. At long last we are able to share that experience with you, beginning with our interviews with the film’s key players. Check back later in the week for a full report of what we saw on set.
Despite the fact that both The Maze Runner and its sequel The Scorch Trials revolve around mostly serious subject matter (i.e. survival), fans should know how much fun the cast members have making the films together. And not the fake, "Oh, we really connected on set" rehearsed-type lines you frequently see and hear from actors, but real genuine friendship which involves cast dinner parties, dance-offs and sing-offs. When we spoke to Dexter Darden (Frypan), he revealed how the cast's real-life bond affects the film, what new territory will be explored in The Scorch Trials and why we'll be seeing more of Frypan.
When you found out you guys were coming back for a second one, what were you most excited to do with the character?
With the character? That’s a great question. Actually, I haven’t been asked that one yet. I was excited to come back and just be filming with my castmates again. We see each other all the time when we’re not working so we’ve really developed this solid family and friendship, so being able to come back with them and kind of create a new movie and a new opportunity with them was awesome. But for Frypan it was kind of cool because he grows a lot in this movie. As people who have read the book or book series know, Frypan kind of gains a little bit more of an identity in the group and kind of assumes a new position and role, and I was excited to take that challenge on and it’s been fun, it’s been great.
What was it like coming back and seeing all your old friends again?
It’s great. I mean, we see each other all the time so it’s not like - whenever the Londoners are in LA or we all try to get together in New York, we’re always doing something crazy whether it’s going to dinner or paintballing or just hanging out playing video games and, you know, that’s who we are and being able to come back into work with them again has been great. But it’s not like, “Oh my gosh, I haven’t seen you in so long,” because we make time to hang out with each other and really make time to spend quality time with each other.
We were hearing a lot about the sand dune running scene.
How was that for you?
Aw, man! I mean, I’m sure you were hearing how painful it was because it was. It was a challenge. Challenges are kinds of things that I look forward to, especially being young and being an actor, you always want to dive into new things and take new things on. It was definitely challenging for sure. I mean, those days it was hot and we are in New Mexico dealing with the altitude and when you’re running in sand your feet just keep getting stuck, you’re not going anywhere, and I feel good now. I feel stronger, and it was definitely something I was dreading but kind of looking forward to when it came to shooting. So yeah, it was a lot of fun.
Tell us a little about what you’re shooting today. Are you guys gonna break into this party a little bit?
[Laughs] I’m gonna break into this party, probably break dance a little bit. I don’t know! No, we’re shooting some stuff with Giancarlo Esposito who plays Jorge and he’s just kind of one of these great actors, and we’ve also added a couple of new cast members today, too. So I think we’re going in to rescue Thomas who’s kind of been swirled into this world of this kind of party, kind of crazy scene and we just kind of wanna get back on track and focus and continue with our mission of finding safety. That’s kind of what we’re shooting today and it’s been kind of fun shooting in this crazy mansion so we’ve kind of taken the place over and done our little Maze Runner thing to it so it’s been kind of cool.
Are you one of the ones that beats up Alan Tudyk’s character?
Yeah, I punch him in the face and he’s got this great bruise.
We just saw it.
Yeah, he’s great too. He’s brilliant. One of the funniest guys I’ve ever met in my life so being able to kind of punch him has definitely checked off my bucket list. [Laughs]
Is there gonna be humor in this movie, too?
Yeah, I think there is humor. I think Frypan, fortunately, is contributing to that a lot too.
I remember asking you on the set of the last film who was the best cook and you said yourself.
Kaya said herself, too.
Kaya said herself too? That sounds like something Kaya and I would do. “Who’s the best cook?” “Hmmm, myself.” No, I don’t know. I think we all are good cooks but we’re all good at different things. Like Kaya, she’s Brazilian so she’s got those Brazilian roots. She can make rice and all that kind of stuff, and rice is my favorite food so I eat it all the time. Dylan can make a mean chicken parm, breaded chicken cutlets, broccoli, all those kinds of things. Me, I really like to take pride in my grilling. I love to grill, but I can also do kind of the soul food-esque things like baked macaroni and cheese and fried chicken, those kind of things. We all kind of differ in what we can cook, but I would definitely say we’re all great at what we cook.
Do you cook in this movie?
Do I cook? I don’t think Frypan cooks in this movie. He eats, but I don’t know if he cooks.
Do you have to change your name if you’re not cooking?
Frypan, what would it be now? Sand dune man? No, Frypan’s just kind of what I got in the Glade so it’s my little part of the Glade that I kind of keep with me because I was the chef in the Glade.
The food in the Glade looked really good, too.
It was very colorful, which was not what I was expecting.
Yeah, we did some dope things like the pig roast and all that stuff at the party. All that stuff was really, really cool. So yeah, Frypan kind of made some good stuff. You cook with what you’re given, right?
I remember the time I got to be on set, you and Will [Poulter] were definitely dancing all the time.
Yeah, that’s my boy.
Is there a new dance craze?
I don’t know if it’s a new dance craze. We still wobble, essentially. When we still go out and the wobble comes on that’s our thing. We love to wobble. But we always kind of have song like “Get Lucky” from Pharrell was one of our songs last year, the wobble, and “Problem” from ASAP Rocky we all would rap that. And now we have new songs. I would say “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift for sure, “All About that Bass,” kind of songs that carry on from the summer time. We’re all such music heads so we all kind of gravitate towards different kinds of things musically, so it’s kind of cool.
We heard there was singing, too.
Yeah, a lot of singing on the last movie and I sing on the side. I write music for other artists and sing myself. Buy everybody’s so musical. Dylan loves singing. We like singing like pop-y, like girls pop-y songs. Kind of helps us tap into our masculinity.
You mean in the upper register or just in a manly way?
Either. It depends. If you catch us in the morning van at 5am, it’s definitely gonna be in the lower register, but if we’re coming home at like noon or it’s a lunch break at noon, it’s definitely in the higher girly Arianna Grande range.
Yeah, oh yeah. Cause baby you’re a firework.
Who’s the worst singer?
Oh, wow. How are you gonna make me do that? I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever really focused on who’s good and who’s bad.
Kaya did say she’s the worst.
100%, 100%. If she said that I would have to agree. But I don’t know who I would say is the worst singer. Normally it’s me. I’m real off, trying to find the key and then everybody just jumps in. We’re a very musically talented group. Dylan plays the drums, Thomas plays bass.
Starting a band after this?
Yeah. The Gladaz!
The Bass Runner.
The Bass… Runner! [Laughs] I get it, I get it. I definitely get it.
Where did the friendship and hanging out start? Was it just natural from the first movie?
It’s so funny. I was listening to Dylan talk about it and it’s something that’s so special and unique to us that we really find it hard to explain. But from day one when we all kind of walked in, and we all were getting there separate days and we all kind of arrived, and we all just kind of like, “Let’s meet up at the hotel for Maze Runner,” day one, literally. We formed this bond instantly in the first couple of days, and then we were worried about, “Oh, Kaya hasn’t gotten here yet and she’s the only girl. How are we gonna like conform and not make her feel awkward around a group of boys since we formed this brotherhood?” And then she came in and she fell right in and it ended up being that one missing piece that we were needing to our nucleus. Like she’s literally one of us. It’s so funny man, especially now adding Rosa and Jacob to the group of kids, we’re adding amazing cast members like Giancarlo. It’s so weird to describe because it is something special and it is something unique that we just don’t have a way of forming words, but I think it all goes back to our nucleus as a crew as well.
I think we’re all kind of extensions of Wes Ball in this weird kind of way. He knows. He’s very meticulous and he knows what he wants and who he can work with and how to get the best product out of them, and I think when he’s going and selecting these actors who are freakishly talented but also freakishly amazing people, I think he’s just kind of selecting extensions of himself and he will never admit to it because he’s so humble and so modest but when it comes to his goofy and crazy side he has me and Rosa, or when it comes to his more methodical, thinking side he’s got Thomas Brodie-Sangster. But yeah, we all kind of fit in and we all are kind of pieces that just form this great bond and it’s kind of crazy.
I noticed that you guys always say his entire name.
Oh, Thomas Brodie-Sangster. Yeah, Thomas Brodie-Sangster or TBS. And we kinda formed this thing "Thomas Brodie-Gangster" for a while. Yeah, because Thomas is definitely the cool one. And he will never admit to it either, but he’s the coolest of all of us. He’s the guy who walks out of his trailer and you look at him and you’re like, “Why can’t I be him?” Because he just kind of has that cool kind of calm - I mean, he plays the bass. Any man who plays the bass is cool automatically in my book so that’s TBS and he is that, Thomas Brodie-Sangster. We call him Thomas when we’re asking, “Where’s Thomas?” But like, it’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster, or Thomas Brodie-Gangster, or just Gangster.
So what’s Frypan’s role in the group now?
He’s kind of lightening, he’s kind of like the lightening part of the group. We’ve lost a lot of people along the way, Gally, Alby, Chuck especially, so it’s easy for us as a group to get down and we need to find somebody who can kind of keep the spirits up and kind of keep the humor alive in certain situations and I think Frypan kind of is that guy. I think he just steps up and assumes that role essentially. There needs to be lightheartedness in the journey, Thomas’ role is to keep us moving, Newt’s role is to keep us together, Minho’s role is kind of to protect us, so who’s gonna keep all those guys happy when it’s time to do that? And so I think that’s where Frypan comes into play.
Do you guys really feel the absence of those characters and actors that you lost in the first movie?
As a family, yeah. We definitely miss them. They’re definitely parts of the group. Will [Poulter] and Chris Sheffield actually came out and flew out to visit us, just to chill with us one weekend, not even on set. No big publicity stunt, just to come be with us for a weekend because they happened to have a week of from their respective projects. So yeah, we definitely miss them because they’re definitely keys to the family. Like I said, everybody has their role where they fit in, and their roles in the group, too. And I think in the movie we definitely miss them as characters. It’s hard for me and Newt and Minho especially kind of continuing the group because Gally was our brother for three years, Alby was our leader for three years, Chuck, yeah, he just came through but he was the youngest guy we’d ever had so we definitely formed that kind of bond and I think as a group we kind of miss them. We don’t forget about them, and you won’t forget about them in the movie. We definitely are reflecting on them and thinking about them, and there’s times we even talk about them and so I think just how in real friendship and real brotherhood you get that, you get that vibe, especially in the movie.
We’re excited to see it.
Yeah, good. I’m excited to see it, too!
Are we gonna get more of you in this movie?
Yeah, I think so. I mean, there’s some in the deleted scenes and, of course, there were scenes that I filmed in the first movie that didn’t quite make the cut, like a lot of things and that’s kind of the nature of the business, but Frypan is here for the long haul and so you do get to kind of see more of Frypan and get to know him a little bit better on a little more personal note and I think that’s kind of great. I think Wes did exactly what was needed in the first movie, you know, showing you a glimpse of the world, the Glade, showing you a glimpse of the storyline and allowing room for character development and arcs like, Thomas goes through an arc, Minho goes through an arc, Newt goes through an arc, Frypan now goes through an arc. So you kind of get to see that a little bit and I think it’s just enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and keep you involved.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials opens on September 18, 2015.