Dylan O'Brien opens up about making grueling new action thriller American Assassin...
Dylan O’Brien’s new movie American Assassin is a tough watch. It’s a gripping, captivating and exhilarating thriller, but it’s incredibly physical and will make sure you wince over and over again.
An adaptation of Vince Flynn’s bestselling novel, the movie sees O’Brien play Mitch Rapp, a new recruit to the CIA’s black ops team, who is devastated by the loss of his girlfriend to a terrorist attack on a Spanish beach.
Now grief-stricken, Rapp is paired with Cold War veteran Stan Hurley to learn how to thwart terrorist operations and hunt the perpetrators.
Together they investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on military and civilian targets and discover a pattern in the violence that leads them to a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent to stop a mysterious operative, nicknamed "Ghost", intent on starting a world war in the Middle East.
Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch, David Suchet and Scott Adkins are in supporting roles, working for director Michael Cuesta.
As the movies comes to cinemas (it’s out on September 14th and will be available to pre-order on DVD from hmv’s online store on the same day), we spoke to O’Brien about the gruelling preparation he went through to play the character, working with Michael Keaton and whether there’s room for a sequel to American Assassin...
The movie is incredibly physical, getting ready for it must have been really hard work...
“It was. Definitely. I feel a bit embarrassed saying that because there are guys who do it for real and go through much, much harder times, I just got the actor version. I grew to really enjoy it, I was forced into really good shape, I’d never done any martial arts training and I’d never done any tactical gun work, especially being trained by guys who really know what they’re doing, it wound up being a great experience. But it was really hard.”
What attracted you to the role, to begin with?
“I thought it was really interesting, I thought the character had a really compelling arc that felt realistic, it felt fresh, I couldn’t remember seeing a young guy playing this kind of role and operating in that world. His path was an interesting one and it felt emotional and strong.”
When we first meet Mitch he’s happy, then he goes through the experience on the beach and after that you see a man who doesn’t care if he lives or dies. Was it hard to get into that kind of headspace?
“There was a bit of difficulty, to begin with, it’s a painful beginning, but I really enjoyed becoming him. People see a person transformed, he changes so much, he’s a completely different person by the end, he reconstructs himself from all that pain. I wanted the audience to see how much pain he was in, but also to see that he was working hard to be tough and not show his pain. It was a lot to think about and a lot to consider, but I wanted to do the role justice.”
How was it working with Michael Keaton? You must have grown up watching his films…
“I did. Working with him was a bit of a trip, I’d be thinking after we’d finished for the day ‘Wow, that’s Michael Keaton’. But he was great, he was very normal, very engaging, very smart, easy to talk about anything. He was everything I wanted him to be.”
This film gets about a lot, did you enjoy all the travelling?
“It was unbelievable. I’d not travelled with a film before. Normally you’re in North Ridge or in Baton Rouge, I’d never got to hop around the world. This time we just kept going East, Rome was amazing, so chaotic to work in, that was a mad time. Thailand was brilliant, we had a day in Malta, that was intense, it was a really cool experience.”
What’s next for you after this?
“I don’t know. I’ve got nothing booked. I’m hoping for some time at home. I finished the third Maze Runner a couple of months ago so I’ll be back to promote that. But I’m not desperate to get out and work again, I’m going to wait for the right thing, something I feel a connection to. I like to decompress for a while and I feel like I need to.”
Finally, can you see yourself playing Mitch Rapp again?
“They have plenty of source material, there are 16 books, so it’s a definite possibility and I know that’s very much the plan. I’d love to do it again and I’m signed up for more. I think there are plenty of places you could go with this character.”