It all started with YouTube. Dylan O'Brien was just
a typical teen living in Hermosa Beach, California when he started
making a series of little films for the site. They built up a huge
following – and suddenly O'Brien was in play in Hollywood.
This led to a large role on MTV's highly popular
series Teen Wolf, in which O'Brien plays Stiles, the goofy
best friend of the title character.
Now he has his first lead role in a film with the
sweet romantic comedy The First Time. In the movie O'Brien
plays Dave, a smart and funny boy who is in love with Jane (played
by Nickelodeon superstar Victoria Justice) who sees him as just a
friend. While working up the courage to ask Jane out at a party, he
meets and befriends Aubrey (Britt Robertson of Life Unexpected).
She has a boyfriend, he is interested in another girl, but as they
get to know more about each other, both start to feel drawn to each
About a week before The First Time was due to
open in New York, O'Brien gave us a call to talk about his movie and
was it about
The First Time
that attracted you to the project?
It was a job. (laughs) That typically
attracts me at first always. They said that they would pay me. All
right, no, I'm just kidding. The script is something that you
immediately take notice of, because A) of how well written it is B)
how smart it is and C) how rare it is today, in the way the industry
is right now. The way the market is. So, it's really refreshing
when you get an appointment email and it's for a movie. You read
the script and it's a movie like this. You go, what, this is
getting made? (laughs again) It's great. You immediately
want to be a part of it. It's also a story that really rang true
for me, in terms of specifics. Literally, I was 19 when I read this
script and I was still not so much removed from the high school
world. It was all still very fresh in my mind. Very recent and
very true to form. The way it was done in the script is really easy
to connect to and really easy to be inspired by, too. You always
want to perform something that you know you can draw from
obviously has a good record with
Freaks & Geeks and In the Land of Women. Did you know his
work before taking the job? What was he like to work with?
I didn't know much of his work before getting the
part. I hadn't seen In the Land of Women. I had watched
Freaks and Geeks and everything, but I didn't know he had
written on that staff. But I did my research. I knew obviously
Larry, who his dad was. [Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote Raiders of the
Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and wrote and directed Body
Heat and The Big Chill, amongst others]. I learned about
his brother, too. [Jake Kasdan wrote and directed Orange County,
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Bad Teacher.] When I
met Jon, the thing that stuck out to me was just how sweet he was.
It makes perfect sense, because he wrote this script entirely from
his own heart. (laughs) He's the sweetest man alive.
Working with him was amazing. He's a guy who makes... me at least,
he just puts me at ease. I feel like I can be really honest with
him. I feel really comfortable around him. He makes you quietly
confident and just makes you feel right. He doesn't ever make you
feel like you are wrong with anything. I think that's really
important. Especially for me, as an actor if I'm getting yelled at
all the time and told that I'm awful, I probably will be awful. So
it was good that he was encouraging.
and Britt have some very intimate scenes together, emotionally as
well as some physically. Since one or the other of you are on
screen pretty much the entire running time, it is very important to
feel that bond. How quickly did you connect with her in filming?
Me and Britt hit it off immediately. That's
something that can either happen or not. It's just about who you
guys are as people, in a way. We were really lucky, we had an
immediate bond and an immediate friendship. A really healthy
friendship, throughout. We were really just buddies – close, tight
buddies – before we shot. Me, her and Jon in particular, the three
of us became genuinely, genuinely close. We would share intimate
details about our personal lives before we started shooting, during
the rehearsal process. It's funny, because that's kind of what
needed to happen. We were all going to be working so intimately and
we were all going to be trying to achieve this intimacy onscreen,
too. To do that, I think you have to achieve it off-screen, first.
is becoming so huge right now with
Victorious. What was she like to work with?
She was great. Yeah, she comes on set and she's got
this mega-superstar name to her and this hype about her in a way,
because she is so famous. But she is just so sweet and so normal
and so down to earth and has a really good part in the movie. It's
really good for her. It's cool.
character's concerns changed drastically over a few days. But in
honor of his first dilemma, with Jane, do you think guys can ever
get out of the friend zone once they are there?
Yeah, yeah, I think so. Whether or not it works
out, that's an entirely different thing. Sometimes, maybe it's best
just to be friends. You learn that, or you don't. I even
specifically in high school had a friend who I was completely and
totally in love with. Then something ended up happening and we
dated for like four months, and then went back to be being friends.
(laughs) There's that boring rendition of it. Then there's
other possibilities. But it's really common, I think.
thing I found kind of cool about the movie was that it wasn’t the
typical teen movie. Your characters were definitely deeper and more
conflicted than in most of the teen party films. Why do you think
that Hollywood tends to sort of dumb down their teen romances?
I don't know. That's something that's just been a
trend over the last 10-20 years, but mainly 10, I'd say. I think
it's all about what's successful at the time. Then trends take off
from there. For instance in the 90s, things like American Pie
took over and all of the sudden everyone is trying to make every
raunchy comedy out there. The thing became, yes, dumbing-down teen
story lines and themes and topics and whatnot. That's what I loved
so much about Jon's script. He wasn't afraid to be intelligent. He
wasn't afraid to make these teenagers smart. Not all teenagers are
reminded me a lot of
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're seeing their whole
relationship. You're hearing their every word between them. Yeah,
definitely. It's definitely Before Sunrise-esque.
Would you say you
are more like you for real – Dave or Stiles? Or neither?
It's funny, because there's blends of me in each.
There's things in each that aren't so me. I don't know. I think
something that is interesting about both Dave and Stiles that I
don't necessarily have is that they both act externally. The have a
very external way of feeling and processing and whatnot. Whereas
I'm super internal and will go any distance to remain internal and
not open up. But, when it comes down to it, I have so many
similarities to each and so many differences to each.
How did you get
Have you been surprised by how much the show has taken off?
No, I haven't actually. From the beginning I knew.
It was the first drama I ever got. I remember when I read the pilot
of it loving it and thinking it was great and actually thinking this
could be something very successful and very good. It's funny,
because in hindsight there seems like a little more possibility of
it failing, but when it was happening to me, I just always knew it
would be successful, for some weird reason. Whether that be because
I had confidence in what we were doing creatively or just because
I'm just kind of a psychic or whatever. (laughs) I don't
know, I always kind had a feeling it would do well. I knew it had a
good, fun storyline. I knew it had good looking people. (laughs
again) I knew we had interesting characters and a good script
at the end of every day. That's something that could turn into a
successful show, and it has. That's really amazing. That's such a
testament to [show creator] Jeff Davis. It's all him, really.
you familiar with the original film? It certainly has a different
vibe from the show.
Oh, yeah, entirely. It's impressive. He's created
this whole new Teen Wolf world and it seems right. It seems
like that's the Teen Wolf world, but it stems from this
entirely different original Teen Wolf world. Which I think
Can you tell us a
bit about what we expect from the new season?
I wish I could, man, I just don't know that much
about what's going on yet. I haven't been briefed. I know there's
like three of four months in between seasons. We're not picking up
from where we left off like we did last year. This year, we'll come
in and it will have been a few months. That'll be interesting, to
see where everyone's at and what's going on. I think Beacon Hill
may be forming a reputation of sorts and may attract other creatures
that are out there. Or just maybe more wolves.
you built up quite a following for your YouTube videos. How did you
get started on that? Do you think that is a viable way for young
actors to get discovered in the modern entertainment world?
That's a really good question, because I always tell
people I was never trying to get into acting. It happened because I
had this body of work that I put on the internet that got enough
people's eyes on it. One of them happened to be a manager who
wanted to represent me. (laughs) If anything, that just
shows how lucrative it can be. Where it could put you. I really
think that more importantly than being an extra on a show or getting
a PA job or trying to be a stand-in or something. The most
important thing that I tell everybody, is just to be pro-active.
Make your own stuff. Write your own stuff. Always just be doing
your own thing. Eventually, good things will happen. And if not,
you're still doing what you want to do. The thing with me is that I
never wanted to be in some insane platform. I never wanted to be on
a show or in movies. Obviously, I wanted to make movies, but I
was. I was making my own little things. If you want to get
noticed, I think that's the way to do it. If you want to work and
you want to make movies, that's the way to do it – because you are
doing it. Who cares then if you don't get noticed by anybody or it
doesn't work out or pan out? It's just the way to do it. Just do
it on your own.
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