Dylan O'Brien On Everything He Loves About Love and Monsters

Trending Now Dylan O'Brien On Everything He Loves About Love and Monsters

Oct 17, 2020 5:45 pm
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As a veteran of Teen Wolf and The Maze Runner trilogy, Dylan O'Brien has endured both the post-apocalypse and monsters before, but never quite like he does in his new movie, Love and Monsters. O'Brien stars as Joel Dawson, a survivor of the Monsterpocalypse who's spent the last seven years hiding in a bunker after chemical fallout caused all the bugs and other small creatures of the world to mutate to enormous sizes -- and start chowing down on humans. After reconnecting with his high-school sweetheart over a radio, Joel decides to venture across the hazardous landscape to see her in person despite the odds against him. It's a funny, poignant coming-of-age story that's carried by O'Brien's warm, open performance.

In an exclusive interview with CBR, O'Brien talked about why he wanted to be a part of Love and Monsters, the fun of imagining the film's gigantic creatures and what it was like to act opposite a dog, the co-star he spent the most time with in the movie.

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CBR: What appealed to you about Love and Monsters?

Dylan OBrien: It's such a long answer, because everything, really everything, in it appealed to me. First of all, when I first read the script, I loved the world and I loved just how good-natured the film was. I loved how original it was, but also kind of like a throwback to a kind of movie that we don't really see today a lot of anymore. I loved this singular coming-of-age narrative amidst this really unique world with this really unique tone, I think too, that was balancing a lot of things. I loved how lighthearted it was, I loved how good-natured it was, but at the same time, I loved the elements of the monsters. And I loved how creative that idea was too, that this version of the apocalypse -- that to me always was sort of satirical, but at the same time, really grounded -- where monsters are what forced humanity underground and essentially ended the world. And I loved how they all stem from real-life mutations of these [animals].

Another thing I keep talking about a lot, because I do love this so much too, is you read a script about a boy and a dog trekking through a monster apocalypse for love and you go, "How are you going to pull that off live action? This is 100 percent an animation." And so I loved that idea too. And I loved the character so much too. I loved all the characters and all the chapters of the script. You see it's such a rambling answer, but I can never hone it. [Laughs] I have to write something really brief down, and sorry that you were the brunt of me not having that down yet.

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Thats okay! You really do carry the movie, you're in pretty much every scene. Was that a challenge for you?

It's not as much of a challenge when you, to be honest, have a great team around you. And I really adored our cast and crew on this. It genuinely was like such a family down there, and I loved Michael [Matthews], our director, and it was just such a great experience. And so I think that obviously that's night and day, a difference. And honestly too, with how strong the script was from the start and how much I genuinely loved the character and just loved being him every day, I think that goes a long way too, you know.

There wasn't a ton of dire figuring things out each day, like, "How are we going to make this work? What does he say here though? There's something missing from the scene." When it's all there for you, and then it's just up to you to play with and try things, I think it's a lot easier than scrambling for something. So, it probably felt like a lot less work than it looks like just because of all the support I had.

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You act opposite a lot of the monsters, and it seems like you are having very realistic interactions with them. Were they primarily computer-generated or was there some aspect that was practical?

Very rarely practical. I think maybe there's a couple things, smaller things, throughout that we had practical. [The] special effects department [made] the slugs on my arms, and I think the biggest one we had was the big claw that comes through the curtain in the beginning, the first one we see, I believe. But other than that, obviously the really big ones, which is most of it, it's always a tennis ball attached to a blue pole. Which is funny, and to be honest, that's just how it is, so you are just kind of used to it. The environment I think is the most important thing for me.

I think if anything too, look, if you're ever in a world where you're staring at a -- on set, I mean -- if they have a gigantic practical bullfrog [Laughs], I think if anything, that it would kind of crack me up. It's nice to use your imagination. That's part of what makes it fun, and if anything, I think that's more helpful. So it's always just an eyeline that you're having to follow and a height that you're having to keep track of to achieve the size of the monster, but everything else is then just you having fun in your own head, which is what makes acting fun.

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Of everyone in the cast, the co-star you spend the most time with is a dog. How was he to work with?

Honestly, that was just like one of the greatest parts of the whole thing. And again, just like you said too earlier when you asked the question about working every day and what was that like, did you ever get a break, and the answer was no. But to be honest, from the get-go, the fact that I had this companion who genuinely means so much to me, that dog -- and his double too, Dodge, they were a pair because obviously they have to relieve each other every now and then -- and that little family to me with their trainer and owner as well, Zelie [Bullen], who's one of the greatest, warmest humans I've ever been around in my life. My whole first experience getting out there to Australia to shoot was dog training and going out to Zelies. She lives on this beautiful ranch out in Australia and has all these amazing animals, and Hero and Dodge are like the best dogs ever, and I'm just basically getting acquainted with them so they're comfortable with me. It was just like the greatest thing that I could ask for.

Some of my favorite pictures that I kept from set are when the still photographer got either me and Zelie just sitting in the grass, having a conversation, petting the dogs, or me just going over on the beach and lying with Hero and him just licking my face. Honestly, those moments, what else can you ask for? Literally, they reset me. And that family just genuinely means so much to me. I couldn't mean that more genuinely. I still miss and talk to Zelie often. She just texted me the other day saying like, "Oh, Hero just came and gave me good morning kisses." It was a big lovefest. So, the greatest screen partner you could ever have. [Laughs]

Directed by Michael Matthews and written by Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson, Love and Monsters stars Dylan OBrien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt. The movie will be released on digital and premium video on demand on Friday, Oct. 16.

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