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The Maze Runner director Wes Ball and actor Will Poulter stopped by the CBR Tiki Room at WonderCon 2014 in Anaheim to discuss the many facets on bringing James Dashner’s young adult novel to life. While this may be the first chapter in a potential movie franchise, it also marks Ball’s feature film debut. The director found himself tackling several unforeseen challenges adapting the property, from fixing scenes on set to reworking schedules at a swift pace. Poulter told CBR’s Jonah Weiland that his character isn’t necessarily a villain, but is simply misunderstood, and how that affected his approach to Gally. No interview with the proud Londoner would be complete without asking him about his favorite football (soccer, to you Americans) team, and Poulter said he still loves Arsenal despite the team falling on hard times lately.
On the incredible experience Ball had on set directing The Maze Runner: “It’s been fantastic. It could’ve gone a totally different way but it’s been a dream come true. It starts with the cast -Will [Poulter], Dylan [O’Brien], the whole cast. It’s been a dream to work with them because they work so hard, they’re totally devoted to this thing, they give everything they have for it and it shows up on film. My crew came together, and they all worked their butts off in the grueling heat in a very short time window. The studio’s been incredibly supportive for what we’re trying to do here. They’ve been on board and it’s been a really easy, wonderful experience so far.”
On how Ball adjust to the quick pace on set: “You have literally hundreds of people coming to you everyday asking for this, I need this… because in two hours they have to get this ready for when we start to shoot this scene here. You really are having to fire off decisions fast, which means you have to have a lot of time and prep to decide what you want and actually figure out what that movie’s going to be, so they’re not all trying to figure that out on the day when you’re spending lots of money and time, and you’re just executing them. It comes with lots of conversations with me and the guys. We just sit around, figure out what this thing is going to be about and try to get to the heart and soul of that scene when we’re in there filming it. That’s probably the biggest shock to me, was just how fast you actually have to move on a real feature set.”
On the the development of Poulter’s character Gally for the big screen: “I was very much attracted to the role, but I think it’s because of what the writers – and notably T.S. [Nowlin] – had come and done with him in later drafts, and what Wes kind of envisioned for Gally – and we always use this word – is more of a conflicted character, not quite the villain,” said Poulter. “He’s the guy who, in some instances, you are going to hate, but I think ultimately you understand him. You reason with him. You see rationale to his actions and the way he thinks. I think there’s going to be some people that really understand where Gally’s coming from. Sure, there’ll be some that don’t, but it’s interesting. Me and Dylan, our two characters that kind of go head-to-head in this movie. It’s a strange relationship at first, it’s sort of just a bit of suspicion and kind of like playful banter and then as that suspicion builds. It kind of crescendos into a full-on hatred, and we nearly go at it at points. There were points on set where we’re so close as a group, and yes we became a family, but there are points where through improvisation and what Wes allowed us to do, where we literally are nose-to-nose. It was cool. That’s the stuff that as actors, you love.”
“Like you said, they have their perspective and their view on their kind of circumstances and their situation that just drives them apart,” said Ball. “Essentially, but in other circumstances they would’ve been the best of friends. I always thought that about Thomas and Gally being kind of both sides of the same coin.”