That’s the experience I had recently when hosting the Canadian premier of The Maze Runner, a new film based on a popular YA novel about a group of boys (and one girl) who must brave the dangers of a giant labyrinth to gain not only freedom but also their true identities.
There wasn’t a plane in sight, just a theatre packed with young adults. When I made the surprise announcement that some of the film’s stars would be joining us for a Q&A, you would have thought a giant electrical surge had bolted through every seat in the house. As I brought Skins’ star Kaya Scodelario, Meet the Millers’ Will Poulter and Dylan O’Brien, resident heartthrob of Teen Wolf to the stage, the place erupted.
Ears ringing, I asked a few questions, trying to be heard above screams of “I love you!” Not directed at me, but mostly at O’Brien.
As the handsome actor answered a question on bringing the character traits of Thomas alive from the page to the stage, a young woman whooped, “Thomas is hot!” O’Brien played along, saying, “That’s what I really wanted to lift from the page, his hotness. I was really focused on that.”
“You nailed it!” came a voice from the audience.
The enthusiasm wasn’t reserved just for him. Scodelario, a British actress who plays the film’s fierce female lead, could barely be heard above the din as she talked about her character’s empowerment. “I felt very strong playing her,” she said.
“A lot of times in movies, Hollywood and the rest of the world try to soften female characters. We have to see them vulnerable and we have to see them crying, and while that is a part of who we are as women, we can also be tough …”
The rest of her message is lost to the ages, drowned out by, “You go, girl!” hollers and the general melee of excited millennials.
Poulter, a 21-year-old British actor with a resumé that includes the charming Son of Rambow and The Chronicles of Narnia blockbusters, provided comedic relief. When I asked if he modeled his American accent on anyone in particular, he said, “I had to give up modeling, but that’s very sweet. Thanks for asking.”
The trio answered questions, most of which started with, “I just want to say I love you guys,” and ended with the inevitable, “Is there any possibility of getting an autograph or a picture?” for 25 minutes before being whisked away to another city, another press day and another theatre likely full of screaming teens.