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"The Maze Runner" Stars Talk "Hunger Games" Comparisons & Boot Camp Bonding



The studios are all scrambling to find the next "Hunger Games" -- but the stars of the latest YA adaptation, "The Maze Runner," swear their film is no knock-off.

The movie revolves around a group of male teenagers who mysteriously find themselves trapped in the middle of a large maze filled with deadly creatures known as "Grievers."

Stars Dylan O'Brien and Will Poulter, director Wes Ball and book author James Dashner all appeared at WonderCon over the weekend in Anaheim, where they talked to toofab's Brian Particelli about the "Hunger Game" comparisons and how they all bonded during "boot camp" before filming.

toofab: We've seen a lot of YA adaptations lately, like "The Hunger Games," "Divergent" and "Mortal Instruments," what sets "The Maze Runner" apart?

Dylan: It's not as star-studded and I really like that about the film. It's really going to be the biggest thing that we've gotten to do. I like the fresh faces. It's gritty, it's real, we look like real people. We don't look like actors in a YA movie, we look like real kids in a dirty world. 

Will: I sort of reject the term "YA" because it patronizes the young adult audience. I think what's really impressive about this film and really does differentiate it from the others is that it's grittier, there's a real integrity to the characters and a focus on the emotional relationships. That's the core of the film and the action elements orbit around that. In other films, it's a different balance. The action and adventure kind of take precedence and the characters fall behind.

toofab: This film is the only one of those to revolve around a male character too. 

Dylan: I hadn't thought about that. I feel really cool. Glad to be the boy of it all!

toofab: What was it like filming in Baton Rouge? 

Will: It was dope, it was cool. What makes the experience unique is we became a true family. Wes really made the characters and how close they were a focus, so we got to bond and work on that. We literally lived together!

Wes: I had this little boot camp that happened the week before, and had everyone go out into the Glade -- this location that we made -- and spend time out there together. My thinking was that it would kind of bond them together and make them think that they've been living in this place for an extended period of time and it just worked. I don't know if the boot camp had anything to do with it, they're all just nice people that they love each other. But I'll take a little bit of credit.

Dylan: The first day, I remember, we exchanged numbers and you were like 'Hey, let me know when you're off.' So I did, and you were like "We're all in my room cooking and stuff, grab some food." I was like, "What?!"

Wes: It was like a summer camp!

toofab: James, what was it like seeing your book come to life on set?

James: It was surreal. I always tell people, if it was any movie set, I would be like a kid at Disneyland. But the fact that it's based on my book was almost too much to handle. It was awesome.

toofab: And what was it like for Kaya Scodelario, who plays the only female character in the film? 

Dylan: She was the perfect girl to have. Kaya's so cool and she's game for anything. She's so not self-conscious or anything, not insecure around us at all.

Will: The first time we met Kaya, it was the funniest thing. We were all in the yard playing this weird game, throwing like four different types of balls at each other and trying to catch them. And Kaya literally comes in, opens up the door, has a cigarette in her mouth, picks up the football, throws it and is like "Hi, I'm Kaya" and everyone is like "Oh my god."

Wes: Kaya's as tough as the guys, if not tougher! She's awesome.

"The Maze Runner" opens September 19, 2014 -- are you excited to see it hit the big screen?

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