Giancarlo Esposito & Rosa Salazar Talk Joining Maze Runner Franchise

In the second film in the Maze Runner franchise, The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, our protagonists almost immediately discover that the refuge in which they've been placed following their escape from the Maze is not all it's cracked up to be. We soon find the group on the run, again, this time through a barren, treacherous wasteland known as the Scorch, where they encounter new monsters known as Cranks and a group of fellow survivors who seem to have knowledge of a safe haven by way of a rebel group called the Right Arm (a term book readers will recognize from Maze Runner author James Dashner's third novel The Death Cure).

Screen Rant recently sat down with two of these new franchise additions, Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Rosa Salazar (Parenthood), to discuss whether their characters Jorge and Brenda are good, bad or both, how that affects Thomas, Teresa, Minho, Newt, etc. and what they've heard about whether their story continues in the next film or not.

So what's goin' on in the Scorch?

Rosa Salazar: Well, it's real Scorchy.

Giancarlo Esposito: It's hot. Action, is going on. We are trying to find a place to be free.

Salazar: If the elements don't kill you, the Cranks will kill you, or will kill you, or Wicked will find you and kill you, or you'll starve to death.

Are you new characters good, bad? A mixed bag?

Salazar: At first it's sort of ambiguous. They run into this, what they think is a safe haven and they're all alone, they run out of a lightning storm and all of the sudden they're greeted by these guard dogs, which are Cranks on chains, which is not the thing you want to see when you've just run out of a calamity. I'm introduced, and then I bring them to Jorge and they're like, "Who the hell is Jorge?" They are running out of the frying pan and into the fire at every turn and I'm sure that you can attest to your character's deliberation.

Esposito: Jorge is hooked up. His first thought is sell them back to Wicked because Wicked allows Jorge to be there because they know they can't mess with him. So he's trying to get ahead, he's trying to find the Right Arm. Of course everyone thinks he's a little crazy when they come in. He listens to the radio, he knows they're there, he knows, he has hope that there's a place out there. They of course know that he can do whatever he wants or whatever he chooses, they honor his good side, to give them the opportunity to be able to get away, when everything comes down and Wicked is on them, they've got to do something. Who's going to lead? Who's going to do it?

Salazar: In a lot of ways you are like a businessman with a heart. Like, "I'm weighing my options and I'm doing what's best for the company. I'm doing what's best for us."

Rosa Salazar as Brenda in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Rosa Salazar as Brenda in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

What for you was the toughest part of filming and what is the toughest part of the film for your characters?

Esposito: I think the beginning days were hard because we were walking, at least I was walking, I had done my research for my character but I had to allow for all of that work to blend with who everyone else was and allow myself to be really open. How I was going to be, working with all of these new young actors who I feel all have jobs and are all wonderful and luckily, I was just blessed to be with Rosa because I felt like we were on the same page and had real understanding of who our characters were and then we could play. We could really play with each other, which allowed us to be in a space that was spontaneous, which I find sometimes is very difficult when you rehearse at home and you learn your stuff, and then it was really really wonderful to have a relationship with Dylan. I have a strong respect for him, to have people look at you in the eye and really be present, is really a gift and then to have such a strong director, our director is just the guy who has the vision and you believed in him, I believed in him. The studio really left him alone and they left us alone to be able to find our way and we did, so now we're on a roll, we feel like family and we're all going to watch each other's butts no matter what, it's pretty cool.

Salazar: With the largess of this film, it can easily feel like a broom in a broom closet. If you're on a movie that's this huge big thing and you'll be a soldier and you can so easily just get, sometimes they threw all the bells and whistles in and they forget, they leave out the heart, they leave out the connection that two actors might have, but those two characters need. Wes did, he curated this movie with the best actors. Young, brilliant, accomplished, actors with chops and in a scene you feel safe, and once you feel safe you start to open up creatively, and you feel like you can be vulnerable and you feel like you can look someone in the eye and be present because you are safe. Wes created that environment, Fox created that environment.

Esposito: It's about something. That's what makes it different then a lot of these big action movies, some of them really make it big in some of them don't, this one has the guts and it has the courage.

Salazar: To be vulnerable and to have epic action scenes at the same time, and to be scary and to keep you on the edge of your seats. It's a popcorn movie but you're like, you're feeling things.

What's one thing you want in the third film?

Salazar: More of us, baby

Esposito: I want to run more. I want to run more and I really, I love the idea that this franchise can introduce new characters and ones that are interesting, to be able to tell a different part of the story, because it's all passing the baton back and forth, so I think we have an opportunity.

Salazar: Yeah, I can't wait to get these kids home.Esposito: Yeah! Let's get them home.


Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials opens September 18, 2015

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