Actor Dylan O’Brien talks about researching his role for the movie ‘American Assassin.’
LOS ANGELES — Dylan O’Brien recalls the stress-filled moments he underwent before boarding the plane last September to shoot American Assassin.
O’Brien, 26, had spent the previous six months recovering at home from a serious head injury received in a stunt gone wrong on the set of Maze Runner: The Death Cure.
He wasn’t sure he could get on the plane, much less make it through the arduous Assassin shoot, his first movie since the traumatic accident.
That’s where the support of his father kicked in.
“I just couldn’t handle it,” says O’Brien ahead of American Assassin‘s arrival in theaters Friday, thinking back to LAX. “The day of the flight, I don’t know if I would have ever gotten on the plane without my dad.”
O’Brien remembers being depressed, anxious and often angry as he recovered. He counted on the support of his girlfriend, actress Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride), and his parents, Patrick and Lisa O’Brien.
“(They) saw in the most intimate way the state I was in, how I was struggling that summer,” says O’Brien. “The most awful, scariest thing that ever happened to us as a family, was, in a weird way, what brought this experience together later.”
When a soul-searching O’Brien agreed to step into the part of Mitch Rapp, the title character in Vince Flynn‘s American Assassin thriller, with the support of his doctors, his father offered to put aside his career as a cameraman to accompany him to the set.
‘American Assassin’ actor Dylan O’Brien discusses the intense training involved in preparing for the movie. USA TODAY
“I was having so many doubts. Truly random panic attacks and feeling overwhelmed. And going back and forth about whether I could do it or not. Being so scared,” says O’Brien. “My parents decided that one of them would be happy to go with me. I was like, ‘You don’t to have to do that.’ “
Patrick intended to stay a couple of weeks to settle Dylan into the role with director Michael Cuesta. But father and son started feeling comfortable with the arrangement.
“I loved having him (there). My father said, ‘Look ‘I’ll finish this with you,’ ” O’Brien says. “He ended up being with me the whole time, such a big part of the experience.”
When Cuesta yelled “Cut!” on the final day of shooting, things got emotional.
“That was a moment of really intense relief and pride, overwhelming genuine emotion. I was just flashing back to the previous months. The accident and everything thereafter. And everything it took for me to do this,” says O’Brien. “Fast-forward, I had completed it. And I had my dad right there with me.”
His father was the first to congratulate him.
“Everyone was clapping. And we had this big hug, this really emotional moment for us. He was like, ‘You (expletive) did it, man,’ ” says O’Brien. “That was one of the best moments of my life.”