Sorry to bring up the humblest brag of the humble brags, but last November, I spent roughly 13.5 hours of my life watching Dylan O'Brien, Ki-Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and more film "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" for a top-secret set visit. And while four long, wintery months have since gone by, the memories of filming in the southwest have stayed fresh -- and now that the secret (and the badass video!) is out, I can finally reveal what it was like to hang with Dylan on set.
Here's what I learned:
The Scorch = Albuquerque.
The Southwestern city of Albuquerque, New Mexico -- former home of "Breaking Bad" -- replaces Baton Rouge, Louisiana as the set for the second "Maze Runner" movie. Unlike with the Maze, the Scorch is supposed to be a "real" location that until recently housed ordinary people, so the "Scorch Trials" gang had to "junk up and scorch out" their filming locations in the city, to make them look post-apocalyptic.
They also poured pounds upon pounds of sand all over the place -- including where we were shooting that day -- to make ABQ look even more desert-like... and of course, to make room for the crazy running-through-the-sandstorms scenes that terrify the Gladers in the book.
The underground = an abandoned mall.
A lot of the "Scorch Trials" book takes place in an underground system of tunnels called "the Underneath." When I was on set, the production team made it clear that the movie would not be a shot-for-shot adaptation of the book, but it would still use a whole bunch of beat up indoor locations to create a similar feel to those tunnels.
One such location was the Winrock mall, a shopping center that was still half functional (read: it's pretty depressed) when "Scorch Trials" filmed there back in November. However, the half that the movie used was filled with cars that were dragged in by production -- expect some scenes in a parking garage, kids -- piles of sand, and so on and so forth.
It was also so dusty and sandy that the crew (and the press, AKA me) were advised to wear masks. I didn't, and sounded like a lifelong chain-smoker by the end of my 12-plus hours on set.
Dylan and Ki-Hong burn the midnight oil.
If you ever doubted your boy Dylan O'Brien's (or Ki-Hong Lee's) work ethic, know that I arrived on set around noon, and by the time I departed at 2:30 a.m. the two of them were still running through the dusty "parking garage" with barely enough time to break for craft services. Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Jacob Lofland, Alexander Flores and Dexter Darden were filming with them earlier that day, but broke closer to 10 p.m. to make way for a Thomas and Minho solo-scene.
Dylan is a natural-born leader... and true gentleman.
Literally every single Glader I spoke with said that Dylan took on the role of set leader when it came to the "Scorch Trial" stunts -- since the rest of them didn't have to run too much in the first movie, he had the cardio system required to both run up giant sand dunes and support his costars when they needed his help.
He also seemed really concerned that I was cold during our 2 a.m. interview, which, you know, swoon.
Kaya Scodelario is not a fan of exercise.
I believe "what is spin class? F--k that" were her exact words, but the hilariously candid Englishwoman made a point of mentioning that she was not as capable of Dylan when it came to the stunts. Though of course, she was a trooper about doing them.
Dylan and Dexter like to sing Shaggy.
According to Dexter Darden himself, Dylan is his 24/7 singing buddy when the cameras aren't rolling... and his musical artist of choice is Shaggy.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster likes candy.
He was enthusiastically eating a Snickers (with almond!) during our interview. Gotta love a healthy, god-given metabolism...
... And if you needed an extra dose of adorableness in the "Gladers eating" department, know that Dexter informed me that the "Scorch Trials" cast was prepping to serve Thomas and Kaya their first American Thanksgiving a few days after I left the set. Awwwww.
The Gladers like to play with BB guns.
During a lengthy, unfortunately off-camera conversation with Flores, he regaled me with stories of the "Maze Runner" cast running around their Baton Rouge hotel room with BB guns, and being treated by the staff like kings and queens. No such luck in Albuquerque, where the Gladers had to grow up and play by the rules.
Eating lunch with Cranks is weird.
Though the new trailer for "Scorch Trials" didn't reveal its "villains," the virus-afflicted humans now called Cranks, they were definitely there -- chasing the Gladers -- on set that day. They were pretty normal looking minus the various states of prosthetically applied decay applied to their skin, which made them ridiculously uncomfortable to eat with in the cafeteria at craft services.