We had a chance to chat with Dylan O’Brien (star), Wes Ball (director), James Dashner (author), and Wyck Godfrey (producer) of The Maze Runner while at Comic-Con, along with Fangirlish.com! The film will hit theaters on February 14th, 2014 – Valentines Day. Trust me, Gladers, this book is in extremely capable hands. Read our interview below to learn about how they found the Glade for the movie, how the maze was built, and how beautifully accepting all the fans have been of the castings!
How did you find the Glade?
Wes Ball: They took me out – the location guys. We found this perfect little square plot of land that was surrounded by trees – almost a perfect line – and the trees are up almost 80 feet tall. Then there’s this little bit of forest in there with hills and swamp and all that stuff, and there’s grass around the treeline. So you can go out to this place, the little area that we found, and imagine the tree line as the walls that surround the Glade and the forest that the boys kind of live in and create their own little village community in. We basically picked that area and then started building. We built all the structures, we built it all in place, so you could actually draw a real map of the real Glade and all these little paths that eventually got worn down as the construction guys kept going back and forth from place to place. It just became the Glade. It was fantastic.
Wyck Godfrey: The cool part is that we did build the huge concrete doors, you know, the hydraulics of it. That had to really be interacted with; constantly, they’re looking through the doors. That was the biggest part of the build.
Wes Ball: And it was only 30 feet tall, so we’re gonna extend it in CG up to 100 and something feet. But for all the close-up stuff when, you know, we’ve got the big group around the doors, you see it; it’s real. It’s cool.
James Dashner: You guys could imagine how cool it was for me to visit and see my book come to life. They did a fantastic job with this.
“The construction guys would have to move through the swamp land, and they would end up building their own little bridges to move equipment and all that stuff across, and they built it out of sticks and stuff from the forest. It became the Glade.” – Wes Ball
Wes Ball: I remember that day. We took you out on a tour. It was fun. And as I was saying, because it was built, there’s this little pocket of forest and the construction guys would have to move through the swamp land, and they would end up building their own little bridges to move equipment and all that stuff across, and they built it out of sticks and stuff from the forest. It became the Glade. We just used that bridge to take us over the path to the mountain ruin, which is nestled into the woods there and the hills. It really became it’s own little place. It was awesome.
“When you’re making a movie that is not only having a CG character in the Griever, but also in a CG environment, you need to make sure you get that right.” – Wyck Godfrey
Can you talk about the budget of the film?
Wyck Godfrey: Certainly, we had enough money to do what we need to do to launch a franchise. You know, you want to make sure that you don’t really blow it out of the water up until the first movie does extraordinary business, and then you’re like, “Haha, we can spend whatever we want.” But the cool thing about the budget, frankly, is we held a huge portion of it for visual effects. When you’re making a movie that is not only having CG character in the Griever, but also in a CG environment, you need to make sure you get that right. That’s gotta be a home run. So part of the ways we saved money was actually finding a real location that felt like this could be the Glade, you know. All you gotta do is build it for real. Put a box in the middle of it and imagine, you know, build a little bit of the walls. It was great working with Wes to figure out how to approach those challenges.
Wes Ball: Same thing with the maze. We built basically modular blocks for this maze. We have this giant footprint. So we had to imagine these 16 foot tall blocks by 8 feet wide. We had 63 of them. So we could actually take these stone walls and just move them and arrange them however we wanted, put up our AV and all of our foilage and everything, and just create mazes on the fly. It only goes up 16 feet, so it’s good for certain areas, but then we’ll have to extend it all in CG.
“It’s really cool to me. Getting to read the book, and read the script, and learn my character and bring it to life. I love having that responsibility too.” – Dylan O’Brien
Wyck Godfrey: When you come back, like, one day you’ll be shooting in this configuration, and then you go home and you come back the next day and it’s a totally different maze, and you’re like, “All right, let’s go. Dylan, start running.”
Dylan, what were your fears about approaching this role – because you know it has a huge fan base of readers – to please them and also to bring your own take on the character?
Dylan O’Brien: Yeah it’s so cool man. I’ve haven’t worked much, I’ve adapted a book to a film before and played a character from a popular novel for kids. That’s very cool for me. I loved books as a kid and I would always picture my favorite actors, it’s really cool. It’s really cool to me. Getting to read the book, and read the script, and learn my character and bring it to life. I love having that responsibility too. Pleasing the fans, I’m not even going to worry about, they just seem so awesome and exciting. Not judgmental, or anything. Just supportive and exciting.
Wes Ball: It’s scary how accepting fans have been of all our choices so far.
Dylan O’Brien: It’s really cool.
James Dashner: I had never seen…you know, watching Twilight, The Hunger Games – and I have never seen a fanbase so thrilled with casting choices. It’s kind of eerie!
“Really, it’s an extraordinary fan base that James has got. They’re so loving. They really care. Makes our job easy.” – Wyck Godfrey
Wyck Godfrey: Yeah, I can say from experience, every casting choice on Twilight, the first response was, “Oh my god, you got it so wrong. It was terrible. You guys are stupid.” And on this one, every time we announced someone, everyone was like, “That’s perfect, that’s perfect.” Really, it’s an extraordinary fan base that James has got. They’re so loving. They really care. Makes our job easy.
Dylan O’Brien: You can just focus on doing good work with no pressure from anybody. It’s great!
Wes Ball: Yeah. We’re gonna make a good movie.