Beyond Stiles Stilinski: Dylan O’Brien

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Courtesy of MTV.

For most of us, the first time we saw Dylan O’Brien was as Stiles Stilinski on MTV’s Teen Wolf. He was a completely adorable dork, incredibly sarcastic, clumsy, and loyal to those he cared about. It was not hard to fall in love with the character. He portrayed anxiety well, and taught us that we do not need powers to protect our loved ones. If you have been missing Teen Wolf and Stiles Stilinski like I have, you may be wondering what other projects you can find that Dylan O’Brien has been in.

Even before the series finale of Teen Wolf, O’Brien has worked hard to make a name for himself in this industry. He has been the lead in a blockbuster trilogy, lended his voice to an iconic character, acted in a romantic indie movie, and did a lot of action. In many ways, Teen Wolf was just the beginning of what will no doubt be a successful career. We may miss Stiles, but explore some of the titles below, and surely you will find more of O’Brien’s characters to fall in love with.

The Maze Runner (2014)

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Based on the novels by James Dashner, The Maze Runner follows a group of kids stuck in The Glades, surrounded by a large maze. Those that arrive to The Glades have no recollection of their name or life. Some remember their name, others do not. That is how we meet Thomas (O’Brien). Almost right away, you can sense Thomas is destined for more.  He is curious and asks many questions, and seems hopeful that there is more than just The Glades and a maze. When the first girl, Teresa, arrives with a note that she is the last one, things begin to change. Both Thomas and Teresa seem to have memories, and seem to have known each other in their life before The Glades. Their glimpses show that The Glades seem to be an experiment of some sort. Also, when Thomas starts running the maze, a task few do to map the ever changing pathways, he discovers there may be a way to escape. Thomas takes on the role of leadership and finds the Gladers a way out to freedom.

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games and Divergent, you are sure to love The Maze Runner. It is full of action and suspense. There are many instances within the trilogy that will have you holding your breath. Dylan O’Brien proves that he can play more than a smart but awkward teenager. Thomas is strong with excellent leadership skills. O’Brien shows that he can handle blockbuster hits and help bring stories we love to life. Be sure to also check out the sequels The Maze RunnerThe Scorch Trials (2015) and The Maze RunnerThe Death Cure (2018) to find out what happens to Thomas and the crew beyond The Glades.

American Assassin (2017)

Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Speaking of action, American Assassin quickly became a favorite of mine. This movie also originated in book form, written by Vince Flynn. Dylan O’Brien stars as Mitch Rapp, a seemingly normal guy and newly engaged, but his world is turned upside down when a terrorist attack happens on the beach shortly after the engagement. We follow his story as he personally goes undercover to catch his fiancé’s killer, and is ultimately recruited by the CIA. He trains under Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), a no-nonsense guy who trains the agents to not let things get personal.

“Personal” is exactly what drives the story. With Mitch, it is his past, his fiancé’s loss that drive his determination and sometimes lead him to cross lines. He sometimes does not know when to get out, but he gets the job done. For Hurley, things must get personal when one of the men he trained, and believed to be dead, goes rogue. It is an interesting dynamic between the mentor and student, that ultimately lead into a good working dynamic between the two.

It goes without saying that Keaton is an iconic actor, and O’Brien stands his ground alongside him. The two work off of each other seamlessly and naturally. O’Brien once again shines in an action role, yet in a more serious way than The Maze Runner. He handles the drama and angst beautifully, and proves he has what it takes to be an action star.

The Internship (2013)

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

I absolutely love this movie for so many reasons. Before I ever gave Teen Wolf a shot, I first saw Dylan O’Brien as Stuart Twombly on the big screen alongside Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. There was just something about him that stood out to me, and I knew he was going places. I went into the theater for Vaughn and Wilson, but left a fan of O’Brien.

In the movie, Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) lose their jobs and get a chance at an internship at one of the biggest companies in the world, Google. All the college students split off into teams, the winning team earning their spot at Google. Being older than everyone there, Billy and Nick find themselves on an “outcast” team including Stu (O’Brien), awkward Lyle (Josh Brener), promiscuous Neha (Tiya Sircar), and shy Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael). Stu is a bit anti-social at first, his eyes constantly glued to the phone in his hand. His snarkiness just adds to that.

Over the course of the movie, they all learn to open up. For instance, Stu learns to look up every now and then so he does not miss what is going on around him. He also makes friends with his team. He, along with his team, leave behind what was holding them back from “fitting in” with one another. As you can imagine, not without a lot of humor! Here, O’Brien proves he can handle any genre that comes his way. He has impeccable comedic timing, especially when that comedy is a bit on the sarcastic side!

Weird City: Episode 1 “The One” (2019)

Courtesy of YouTube Premium.

Weird City was, well, weird but also incredibly brilliant. It was interesting take on the Haves and Have Nots set in a futuristic world where apps are in our mind and not on our phones. Each episode took on different aspects of life, the first of which was dating.

”The One” starred Dylan O’Brien as Stu and Ed O’Neill as Burt. Looking for love, the seek out a dating service run by Dr. Negari (LeVar Burton) that uses science to find perfect matches. A complete surprise, Stu is set up with Burt. Both are hesitant as they were actually seeking women, but they soon find they have a lot in common. The more time they spend together, the more they fall in love. It may not have been expected, but it worked out. Even when told it was a mistake on the service’s part, the love remained.

O’Brien and O’Neill play off of each so well in this episode. The comedy is subtle and smart, both of them delivering it with ease. Because of their fantastic acting, you root for the unlikely couple. I also love the LGBTQ+ aspect that love goes beyond gender, it is about the person themselves. The episode is part ridiculous, part genius, but entirely one of my favorite roles of O’Brien’s beyond Stiles Stilinski.

Courtesy of MTV.

With that, I will leave you to explore Dylan O’Brien’s impressive acting range beyond Teen Wolf. Along with everything above, he has also guest starred on New Girl, starred in the coming-of-age romantic dramedy The First Time, lended his voice to Bumblebee, and had a role in the true story Deepwater Horizon. He shows us many times what a natural and believable actor he is. He brings each and every one of his characters to life in his own unique way and with his own creative flair. You can also check out his own hilarious sense of humor in his YouTube video Life of a Hollywood Actor. O’Brien singing “Let It Go” alone might be the best thing I have ever watched!

There is much to look forward to, as well. He will star in the upcoming movie The Education of Fredrick Fitzell, a thriller/drama with a time-travelling aspect. Monster Problems is set for 2020, and seems to have a Supernatural-esque plot when a hunter lends his expertise to a monster apocalypse. Also set for 2020 is the sci-fi movie Infinite, which IMDb describes as “a man discovers that his hallucinations are actually visions from his past lives.” In development is also the movie Marceau, a true story about Marcel Marceau, who Dylan O’Brien will be playing.

I am such a fan of his past roles, and cannot wait to see what is next. His talents will surely continue to entertain and delight us for years to come.

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By Melanie
When Melanie isn’t writing for Nerds and Beyond, she’s doing her best to make professional fangirl a thing. She loves writing fan fiction, drawing fan art, reading comics and binge-watching like it’s a professional sport. Her list of fandoms just keep growing, and will always cite Supernatural and Psych as her first forays into fangirldom. Though Nancy Drew will always be her first real fandom. Melanie works hard at making her art a career and has dreams of becoming a published author someday. You can find her on Twitter @FangirlLanie.
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