American Assassin star Dylan O'Brien says making the action film was a big step in his recovery following his serious accident on the set of The Maze Runner: The Death Cure. O'Brien's life forever changed during filming of the third Maze Runner film in April of 2016 when the actor suffered severe injuries filming an action sequence for the film. The injuries, which were later reported to be head and facial in nature, were so severe that the production was shut down while O'Brien recovered.
While the film eventually resumed production and moved its release to early 2018, O'Brien was saddled with the difficult decision of what sorts of roles he would take on in the future following The Death Cure accident. Ultimately, in a leap of faith, the actor jumped back into the action genre with American Assassin, the first film adaptation based on late author Vince Flynn's New York Times bestseller.
In the film, O'Brien plays Mitch Rapp, a 23-year-old college graduate with a promising life ahead. But in an instant, a terrorist incident rips his world apart, leading him down a dark path of revenge until the CIA catches on to his plans and recruits him to become a counter-terrorism agent.
While the role required lots of physical action and stunts, O'Brien tells Screen Rant in an exclusive interview that he had to put aside all trepidation and just confront the role without fear. He says:
"This was a very big step for me coming off of that and was very helpful for me in recovery (after Maze Runner). It was a very long recovery, and (filming American Assassin) was tackling it head-on after what had happened to me, and obviously, I’m thankful for it all at this point. I’m thankful to be OK and to be here, and thankful for this project to get me back on my feet as a person and as an actor. I think it all worked itself out in a weird, meant-to-be-type of way.”
Naturally, great care was taken during the filming of American Assassin to ensure the safety of O’Brien, as well as everybody involved in the action scenes, including fellow stars Michael Keaton and Taylor Kitsch.
“This was mostly about the fight choreography for the training part of the film and the fight scenes. When you go about that in a careful, responsible and meticulous way, it’s totally safe. You just need to bring it on the day of filming, and you get some bumps and bruises, obviously, like you do when two guys are throwing blows at each other and trying to make it look ferocious and brutal."
O'Brien said there was no doubt in his mind that if he was going to commit to doing American Assassin, he needed to be all-in. He says:
"With me, obviously everyone was careful with me and whether I was comfortable. Ultimately, I really wanted to be the guy in those scenes. I didn’t show to not do anything. I wanted to establish how this guy moved. I wanted to be the guy in those fights. So, I’m glad I was. It was so important and vital to the character.”
It's great to see that O'Brien is not only making films again, but doing work as intense as American Assassin to push forward both physically and psychologically after injuries as serious as the ones he suffered on The Death Cure. Judging his charismatic presence and winning performance as Mitch Rapp in American Assassin, you can tell that he's as passionate as ever about giving his best performance possible; but in this case, it was more than just about immersing himself in the character. It was about courage.
- American Assassin (2017) release date: Sep 15, 2017
- Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018) release date: Jan 26, 2018