'Scorch Trials' Director Talks Sequel's Cast Dynamics & Production

Scorch Trials cast photo

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 today (Aug. 12), 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.

While on a brief break between setups, director Wes Ball sat down with us and explained what excites him most about this very different sequel, his preference for shooting in multiple locations and why they've brought in story elements from the third book into the second film.

Wes Ball: Hello. Sorry to keep you all waiting.

We're so happy you have a few minutes.

All right. How is everyone doing?

Good. So we were watching you guys shoot this rave party, but then--

Don't call it a rave.

Tell us about the look of it, because it was really beautiful with the lights coming in from the back, the ethereal slow motion.

It's just trying to not make it a rave. You know, we're just trying to make something interesting and kind of creepy, but sexual in some strange way. And, you know, a little bit more kind of fitting with this the vibe of the movie in general just a little bit more mature and sophisticated and growing up a little bit with these kids. So, you know, just taking that approach with it basically. Doing something that hopefully we haven't quite seen before. So that's the challenge really is just to make something kind of new and different.

How have things changed coming back and working with the same cast but with the new flavor of a couple of new ones?

It hasn't really changed honestly. I felt like this is the same old, you know, we just, I thought we just wrapped the last one. So it kind of felt, it was fun. We just kind of jumped back into it. We were just doing publicity on the other one a few months ago. So nothing's really changed in that sense, it's just the vibe of the movie's so different really. Different locations, obviously a different place we're shooting now. Yeah, it's really been a lot of fun actually just to kind of like stretch your legs and do new stuff with the same cast and same story, you know what I mean? It's been actually really, really fun.

Maze Runner The Scorch Trials Movie Aidan Gillen Janson

How did bringing in someone like Giancarlo Esposito and Alan Tudyk who are amazing, how does that further enhance what you're doing?

Yeah, Alan's awesome, yeah. Well it's cool because we get to have more adults in this movie. And they're not all just the evil adults either. They're adults that can actually help. So that's kind of fun. Again, it goes with that thing of just making the movie feel more than just a kids movie now, you know. It's becoming more and more mature, more sophisticated and all that stuff. So it's been hell, it's been a lot of fun actually bringing these guys who are just great actors and just watch them do their thing. It's been another one of those blessings where we just find great, great actors. And you just kind of wind them up and let them go. You know, it's been cool.

Can you tell us about the new monsters? We heard a little bit about the Cranks. But what about like the Silver Ball and then the Ball Monster?

Yeah, we'll see. If there's room for anything. But yeah, the Cranks are our big kind of hero monsters in this one. And we've got some cool stuff that's basically inspired by the Grievers. It's taking what James did and trying to push it even further basically. So we'll see how that shapes up. We're going to be doing a good portion of them. Some of them are all prosthetics and stuff, but there's gonna be some really cool ones that you can't possibly build in real life.

Are they making them off your drawings?

Yeah, actually. Lots of cool drawings. Yeah, we have lots of the artwork that gets them on the right track. And they'll bring their own sort of special sauce to everything too. So that's gonna be really fun. I can't wait to get into that part too.

Did you feel any pressure coming back for a sequel and an expectation sort of rise?

Not really. I mean, I feel like this is kind of the same thing on the last one. It's the same sort of issues of trying to make a movie. It's kind of is always the same. But I guess some of the pressure is just how fast we have to move. Like I said we were just finished on the last one and we jumped right into this one. That's kind of the only thing really, but it's a great team around us, an awesome cast. So, you know, we keep our heads down, focus and try to make the best movie we can. Yeah.

Scorch trials cranks

How was it for you adjusting to a movie with pretty much two locations to I don't even know how many you have here?

Yeah, no, it's interesting. It's been fun. I mean, it's interesting because in the last one, even though we had one location, it was one big location. And there are all these different little locations in the location like the Glade itself. But, you know, base camp was always in the same place every day. But I love locations, location work especially. So it's been really fun to go and visit these just crazy, crazy places like this abandoned mall and these abandoned rail yards down the road and now this mansion here for two days. And these  drainage tunnels down for a day. It's just crazy actually how many different locations, it fits really well with this concept of the road movie, this traveling kind of epic that these characters go through. So it's been awesome actually. It's just it's very tough on the crew because we have to move constantly.

And it's also just tough [because] you have to find your shots on the day basically. You don't have that experience in the Glade where you know the shots are gonna work, so kind of keeps you on your toes, but it's going to look awesome. It's going to be a very interesting kind of visual kind of style for this one that I think just kind of takes up where the last one left off and just keeps on going with it. It makes it very real, very believable, and gritty. So, you know, we'll see. I'm really excited with what we might be able to kind of achieve here.

The cast seems really tightly knit. It looks like they have a lot of fun together. 

Yeah. And that's just from the last one. Even the new people coming in, it's all, it's the same kind of dynamic.

Right. Do you have to tell them on set like, "Hey guys, cut it out? I'm not joking around."

Sometimes. That's the only thing that's different this time. Like, "Guys, focus here a little bit." It's so easy for them just to get wound up and just have fun together because they're such good friends. But they're the most professional people that I've ever met. So it all works out. You just have to kind of remind them occasionally.

Yeah, [producer] Wyck Godfrey mentioned you were bringing in a couple characters from the third book a little early?


Dylan O'Brien scorch trials interview

Can you talk about what kind of Easter eggs or little hints there might be of the third?

Yeah, I don’t wanna get into too much of the details about what we're doing there, but the way we're approaching this, now that we've kind of we've got our first one and fortunately it kind of worked out so we could make the next ones, it's not as easy to take that second book and just do a straight adaptation. It just doesn't, it won't work. So our approach is basically to take the rest of his story, the rest of his saga and find the two movies in that. And that required some things to come from the third book come into the second and the second into the third and make that nice, linear trajectory of a nice, cohesive story that's all building to one finale, in the next one hopefully.

That's kind of our approach and that means some characters have to come in, we have to set up certain things that are only in the last bit of the third book. We're bringing them in now kind of starting to sprinkle them in. So like I said, there's that nice, it all feels like a one cohesive thing, you know what I mean? So that's been a little bit of the challenge I think just to kind of find that balance because the fans are very, very important to us obviously and we don't wanna disappoint them. But at the same time, let's look at the last one, you had to make some tweaks and changes to make a good movie. So that's kind of our goal.

Will there be a big rush again if you do another one?

I have no idea. I really don't know. I mean, who knows if I'm even gonna do it. It just depends I guess. Right now I'm just focused on the second one. Making it the best one it can possibly be. Obviously now we have a very clear idea of what the end's gonna be, the end result which is nice actually having a very clear, kind of trajectory of the future movie. But I have no idea what's in store for us for that third one. That's out of my hands almost, you know what I mean?

Yeah. But for this one is was such a crazy timeline, do you think that helped that you just get stay into it?

No. It doesn't help. No, you always want more time. Even when you have the most time of all, you always want more. You know what I mean? It's just movies are made in prep. Movies are made in the script writing process and prepping and preparations for the shooting process. When you're shooting here, it should be about execution and getting the shots and telling that story. So when you're out there trying to still figure things out, it can just slow things down. You have to kind of think on your feet and it makes it kind of fun and exciting and challenging at the same time. But more time is always better for any movie. I think any director would probably tell you that. Any filmmaker really. So, you know, we roll with it. We do our thing. Do the best we can.

The last cast member we talked to was Rosa. She seems to be pretty special and we love Brenda too.

She's great.

Maze Runner The Scorch Trials Thomas Dylan OBrien Teresa Kaya Scodelario

So what has she brought?

She's going to be very interesting. I mean, there's obviously the whole now it's out I guess that she has short hair rather than long hair. That was a big drama thing. But it was really important to me that we just didn't cast another Kaya. It's just someone that had to be distinct and different. And that just meant, you know, going with one, an actress that could really bring something, a new kind of flavor to this thing, but also there's just something kind of cool and cute about her hair. And it's this character that lives with a bunch of scavengers and, you know, it live like the survivalist out in this kind of abandoned building. It just kind of fit.

It's like this little pirate's cove of just the scum of the Earth essentially. People are going to like her. I think the fans will eventually just, they'll get over the whole long hair thing and they're going to fall in love with this girl the way, you know the character of Thomas will. And I think just this tough, very capable and at the same time a really kind of a hard exterior with that kind of vulnerable inside that people are going to love actually. It's going to be really great. So I'm excited for people to kind of meet that side of this world. So that'll be fun, that'll be cool.

What about the dynamic between her, Teresa and Thomas? Because they brought up today that Teresa's now with the group. She didn't get separated as much, so does that change what we get from the book?

Yeah. A little bit. But same kind of dynamic where obviously there's a special connection between Thomas and Teresa. And then this third person starts coming into things. So it's not like a kind of traditional love story triangle thing. But the parallels are obviously there. You know what I mean? There is a little bit of that I don't know what you would call it, that competition I guess you'd say. But never heavy-handed and we're never focusing on it. This is still a movie about adventure and this family that comes together that have to go off and do these things and make hard choices and become the people they're going to be, good or bad. You know what I mean? Teresa still is probably more in this movie than she is in the book necessarily but she still goes through the same things. And some of her big twists in the movie are significant. We're going to really milk that for everything it's worth.

Dylan O'Brien as Thomas from The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

What was it about The Scorch Trials that you were most excited to actually make this movie? Was there a particular scene, character arc, something about this movie?

It's a couple things actually. One is the palette. It's a completely different world and movie and that's kind of fun. A sequel that doesn't have to be a repeat of the last one. And we're in a completely different world. We set it up in the last movie in the last shot. You really see the world we're going to be spending it in. So the colors are different, the textures are different. The sort of reality of the world's even different. And then on top of that, the great cast basically.

And just continue telling those characters that we were kind of starting to shape in the first one and just continue that trajectory. That was really appealing to kind of go in and do that. While it still feels like a completely different movie, it's fun to kind of be in there with the same family you started with. You know what I mean? And just continue pushing all that forward and exploring those characters. And putting them in the bad places and milking them for all they're worth. Those are probably the main things that really kind of excited me up front.-

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials opens in theaters September 18, 2015.

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