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Why the cast of The Maze Runner looks so familiar

Dystopian teen dramas are all the rage nowadays, but franchise series The Maze Runner has set itself apart thanks to its compelling story line and its stars. The films have launched a new generation of young actors while also helping to revitalize and redefine the careers of others. Here's why the cast of the Maze Runner franchise looks so familiar.

Dylan O'Brien (Thomas)

Dylan O'Brien made the leap from TV sidekick to action star when he signed on to lead 2014's The Maze Runner as the mysterious Thomas. Before the role, he was best known for playing Scott's (Tyler Posey) nerdy best friend Stiles Stilinski on MTV's hit teen horror/drama series Teen Wolf.

O'Brien stuck with the show throughout the entirety of its six-season run, although he took some breaks in the later seasons to accommodate his burgeoning movie career. In addition to the Maze Runner series, O'Brien booked roles in the romantic comedy The First Time, the stoner comedy High Road, the Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn comedy The Internship, and the thriller Deepwater Horizon. He also had a memorable role as one of Jess' love interests on an episode of New Girl

In 2017, O'Brien booked another lead role, starring in the adaptation of the popular novel American Assassin. The movie marked O'Brien's return to the screen after he suffered a severe injury while performing a stunt on the set of The Maze Runner: The Death Cure in March of 2016. The injury resulted in the delay of the film's release date, with O'Brien spending six months in recovery. Luckily, the star is now fully recovered, saying he feels "prideful" about finishing out the trilogy despite the injury.

Kaya Scodelario (Teresa)

British actress Kaya Scodelario was also a TV star when she signed on to play the female lead opposite O'Brien in the Maze Runner series. The actress played the partying Effy Stonem on the teen drama Skins for six years. She was a lead throughout the show's first four seasons and returned for a guest appearance in the two-part season seven premiere.

During her time on Skins, Scodelario also made some film appearances, booking a role in the cult sci-fi hit Moon in 2009 and later appearing in the action comedy Shank, the big-budget fantasy Clash of the Titans, the romantic dramas Wuthering Heights and Now Is Good, and the thrillers Twenty8k and The Truth About Emanuel

Since appearing in the Maze Runner series, Scodelario's star has been on the rise. After starring in the 2015 crime drama Tiger House, Scodelario booked a lead role in the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, playing horologist Carina Smyth. Although the film didn't take over the box office in the same way as some of the other movies in the Pirates franchise, it still marked another impressive blockbuster for Scodelario's resume.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt)

Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who plays Newt in the Maze Runner films, has been acting since he was just 11 years old, racking up 49 credits to date. This kicked off with an appearance in the BBC TV movie Station Jim; later that year, Brodie-Sangster had parts in the TV drama The Miracle of Cards and the miniseries Stif of the Dump.

Brodie-Sangster broke out for mainstream audiences when he landed the part of Liam Neeson's romance-entangled young son Sam in the 2003 ensemble romantic comedy Love Actually. The part earned him a Golden Satellite Award nomination and a Young Artist Award nomination. A couple of years later, Brodie-Sangster played opposite Emma Thompson in the kids comedy Nanny McPhee. In 2006, he appeared as a young James Franco in the romantic drama Tristan and Isolde; the next year, he booked a recurring guest appearance on Doctor Who.

Brodie-Sangster continued to book impressive roles, appearing as a young Paul McCartney in the Beatles biopic Nowhere Boy and lending his voice to the Disney Channel comedy series Phineas and Ferb. He also had roles in the drama Death of a Superhero, the fantasy-thriller Hideaways, the drama Albatross, the John Keats biopic Bright Star, and the action comedy The Baytown Outlaws. In 2013, Brodie-Sangster booked the role of Jogen Reed on HBO's wildly popular Game of Thrones, appearing in ten episodes. His other TV work includes the BBC Two historical drama Wolf Hall and the Netflix western Godless.  

Ki Hong Lee (Minho)

Ki Hong Lee, who plays the runner Minho in the Maze Runner series, got his start by guest-starring on a 2010 episode of Victorious. After an uncredited appearance on The Secret Life of the American Teenager and a guest role on Modern Family, he landed a part on the ABC Family fantasy series The Nine Lives of Chloe King. Although the show was canceled after one season, Lee bounced back quickly, landing guest roles on New Girl, NCIS, Blue Bloods, and The Client List, as well as appearances in the YouTube series Always You and MotherLover, both from the YOMYOMF Network. 

Lee has also appeared in Wong Fu Productions' Take It Slow, Away We Happened, This Is How We Never Met, Somewhere Like This, To Those Nights, and She Has a Boyfriend.

The year after The Maze Runner premiered, Lee booked another big film role in the thriller The Stanford Prison Experiment. He also booked a recurring guest role on Netflix's popular comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, playing Kimmy's (Ellie Kemper) unfortunately named love interest, Dong. Lee's other notable roles include the Korean crime thriller The Mayor, the horror film Wish Upon, and the romantic drama Everything Before Us.

Dexter Darden (Frypan)

Another member of the Gladers, Dexter Darden's Frypan appeared in all three films in the series. Darden has been acting since 2006, when he had a small part in the drama My Brother. He became well known to Disney Channel fans two years later when he appeared in the channel's time-traveling comedy Minutemen.

That same year, Darden had a small role in the musical biopic Cadillac Records. He also later made guest-starring appearances on Cougar Town and Victorious and had parts in the musicals Standing Ovation and Joyful Noise. After The Maze Runner's release, he landed a part in the dance-themed web series Making Moves.

Alexander Flores (Winston)

Alexander Flores' Winston met a tragic end in The Scorch Trials, the second feature in the franchise, and although the actor has not appeared in any major projects since, he was a frequent TV guest star before landing his role in the franchise. His notable appearances included The Good Wife, Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie, Rescue Me, and The Sopranos.

Flores has also had small roles in the dramedies The Wackness, The English Teacher, and Jack, Jules, Esther, and Me as well as the romantic drama The Greatest, the crime drama Twelve, the drama Home, and the Vince Vaughn-starring comedy Delivery Man.

Will Poulter (Gally)

Will Poulter's Gally may have been Thomas' enemy in the first film, but Poulter still endeared himself to fans with his impressive take on the character. Poulter has been building up an impressive resume since he started acting in 2007, first becoming well known to audiences by playing the Pevensie's annoying cousin Eustace Scrubb in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Poulter's next big role was as the awkward teen Kenny in the Jennifer AnistonJason Sudeikis comedy We're the Millers, for which he earned a BAFTA Rising Star Award and an MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Performance. After The Maze Runner was released, Poulter had a role in the Oscar-winning Leonardo DiCaprio thriller The Revenant.

Poulter has since starred in the romantic drama Kids in Love and Brad Pitt's Netflix dramedy War Machine. He also played the antagonist in Kathryn Bigelow's social thriller Detroit, which was critically acclaimed. Poulter almost had a role in another critically acclaimed 2017 hit—Stephen King's It. The actor was initially set to play the evil clown Pennywise but was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. 

Rosa Salazar (Brenda)

Rosa Salazar joined The Maze Runner franchise for its first sequel, The Scorch Trials, as the mysterious Brenda. The movie was the first major film role for the actress, who was previously best known for her television work, including appearances on Law and Order: LA, American Horror Story: Murder House, and Parenthood.

Salazar was also a frequent fixture in website CollegeHumor.com originals and appeared in the 2014 T.J. Miller comedy Search Party. Later that year, she appeared in the comedies Jerked and The Pro, and the next year she booked a supporting role in the second film in another popular teen franchise, The Divergent Series: Insurgent.

After The Scorch Trials, Salazar booked a recurring role on the FXX comedy Man Seeking Woman and lent her voice to the Netflix animated comedy Big Mouth. Salazar also had a role in the film version of the popular TV series CHIPS. The actress is poised for another huge breakout soon; she plays the title role in James Cameron's big budget sci-fi feature Alita: Battle Angel.

Jacob Lofland (Aris)

Jacob Lofland was another new addition for The Scorch Trials as Aris, but the young actor already had a lot of experience, appearing in the Matthew McConaughey drama Mud and in a recurring guest-starring role on the FX drama Justified. He also played a part in the 2015 History Channel miniseries Texas Rising

After earning a Young Artist Award for The Scorch Trials, Lofland appeared opposite McConaughey again in the biopic Free State of Jones and played a young Pierce Brosnan in the AMC western series The Son, which has since been renewed for a second season. Lofland has also appeared in the romance film Go North

Patricia Clarkson (Ava Paige)

As the head of WCKD, Patricia Clarkson's Ava Paige has terrorized the young group of heroes throughout all three films. Clarkson had many years of acting experience to help her prepare for the role, starting with roles in in The Untouchables in 1987 and Jumanji in 1995. Early in her career, she also booked appearances on the TV shows Law and Order, Davis Rules, Queen, and Murder One. Her break-out role was in the 1999 drama The Green Mile, which earned her a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In 2001, Clarkson held a recurring guest role on Frasier. The next year, she played the mother to Angela Bettis' title character in the NBC TV movie Carrie. She also booked a recurring guest spot on the drama Six Feet Under, for which she earned two Emmy wins for outstanding guest actress in a drama. 

In 2003, Clarkson earned an Academy Award nod and a Golden Globe nomination as well for her role as the sick mother of Katie Holmes' character in the dramedy Pieces of April. She has followed that up with appearances in films like The Station Agent, Dogville, Miracle, No Reservations, Lars and the Real Girl, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Martin Scorsese's Leonardo DiCaprio starrer Shutter Island, the Emma Stone film Easy A, and Friends with Benefits. 

Clarkson has also made memorable appearances as Ron's ex-wife Tammy on Parks and Recreation and as the mother of Justin Timberlake in Saturday Night Live's well-known "Mother Lover" comedy sketch video. More recently, Clarkson has appeared on House of Cards and Broad City and booked a role opposite Amy Adams in HBO's highly anticipated series Sharp Objects.

Giancarlo Esposito (Jorge)

WCKD pilot Jorge made his debut in The Scorch Trials, with Emmy nominee Giancarlo Esposito taking on the part. Esposito is perhaps best known for playing drug kingpin Gus Fring on Breaking Bad, earning him the 2012 nod. He has since reprised the role on the prequel series Better Call Saul. 

Esposito holds 170 acting credits to his name, starting with a 1952 appearance on the TV series Guiding Light. He started acting in more projects throughout the 1980s, appearing in Sesame Street, Taps, Trading Places, Go Tell It On the Mountain, Miami Vice, Maximum Overdrive, The Equalizer, and, famously, as Buggin Out in Do the Right Thing

In the 1990s, Esposito appeared in the biopic Malcolm X and appeared in the thriller King of New York. He also starred on the Fox sitcom Bakersfield P.D., which was canceled after just one season. After appearances in The Usual Suspects, Chicago Hope, and NYPD Blue, he signed on to a starring role in the seventh and final season of Homicide: Life on the Street. In 2000, he reprised the role in Homicide: The Movie.

More recently, Esposito has guest starred on episodes of Law and Order, Ghost Whisperer, Bones, CSI: Miami, Leverage, Lie to Me, Once Upon a Time, and Community. He also had a starring role in NBC's dystopian drama Revolution, which ran for two seasons, and appeared in NBC's Allegiance and Netflix's series The Get Down as well as the feature Okja.

Aidan Gillen (Janson)

Aidan Gillen's Assistant Director Janson is not so affectionately known as Rat Man in the Maze Runner series, and that isn't the first time that one of Gillen's characters has earned the ire of viewers. The Irish actor is best known for playing Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish on HBO's Game of Thrones, a role which has definitely brought him some angry fans. On the other hand, the role has earned him and his cast three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Ensemble in a Drama series and has fully solidified his place on the television A-list. 

Gillen has been acting for a long time, starting with a 1985 short film called The Drip. He first became known for his appearance in the 1999 TV series Queer as Folk, which earned him a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actor.

After appearing in the miniseries Dice and guest-starring on Law and Order: Trial By Jury, Gillen joined the cult hit The Wire, playing Mayor Tommy Carcetti. After the show ended, he booked small roles in films like The Dark Knight Rises and 12 Rounds. He also appeared in the miniseries Mayday and the crime drama Love/Hate. More recently, Gillen has appeared in Sing Street, Peaky Blinders, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Nathalie Emmanuel (Harriet)

Another Game of Thrones alum, Nathalie Emmanuel is best known for playing Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) translator and friend Missandei on HBO's hit series. Her character was introduced in the third season and is expected to continue it throughout the show's eighth and final season.

Emmanuel was already an experienced TV star when she signed on to Game of Thrones. The British actress was well known for starring as Sasha Valentine on the Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, appearing in 191 episodes. After leaving the show, she guest starred on Misfits before landing a role in the thriller Twenty8k, also starring The Maze Runner's Kaya Scodelario. 

In 2015, the same year she joined the Maze Runner franchise in The Scorch Trials, Emmanuel booked a part in the Fast and Furious franchise, starring in Furious 7 as the computer hacker Ramsey. She reprised the role in 2017's box office smash The Fate of the Furious.

Barry Pepper (Vince)

Barry Pepper was another new addition for The Scorch Trials, although the veteran actor should already be familiar to audiences. Pepper is a Golden Globe and Emmy nominee for his performance in the HBO baseball biopic 61* and an Emmy winner for starring as Robert F. Kennedy in the ReelzChannel miniseries The Kennedys

Pepper made the guest-starring rounds for a while before landing his breakout role in 1998's Saving Private Ryan. 1998 ended up being a big year for Pepper, who also appeared in Firestorm and Enemy of State. He followed it up with roles in The Green Mile, Battlefield Earth, and Flags of Our Fathers.

More recently, Pepper has starred in True Grit, Snitch, Kill the Messenger, Broken City, Casino Jack and The Lone Ranger, in addition to lending his voice to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. He also had a role in 2017's first big-budget flop, the ill-advised Monster Trucks.

Marcus (Alan Tudyk)

Alan Tudyk is another veteran actor, starting off his career in movies like  Patch Adams and A Knight's Tale, before landing the part of the lovable pilot Wash in Joss Whedon's cult hit Firefly, a role which he (tragically) reprised in the 2005 film. In between, he also appeared as the memorable Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and, in a motion capture suit, played the robot Sonny in I, Robot

Tudyk later booked parts in comedies like Death at a Funeral and Knocked Up, and appeared in the Oscar-nominated drama 3:10 to Yuma. He also led the popular horror comedy Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and reunited with Whedon for a recurring guest role as the terrifying Alpha TV producer's sci-fi series Dollhouse. He also guest-starred on the original run of Arrested Development and in its Netflix reboot.

Tudyk booked a role in another large franchise in 2011, appearing in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. He later played a supporting role in Chadwick Boseman's Jackie Robinson biopic 42 and starred for three seasons on the ABC comedy Suburgatory. He was also a principle cast member in sitcoms Newsreaders and Powerless, both of which were canceled after one season, and guest-starred on the BBC America series Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Tudyk's more recent roles include starring in the drama Trumbo and playing the droid K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, once again wearing a motion capture suit (and also providing the character's voice). Tudyk, who has also lent his voice to Wreck It Ralph, Frozen, and the Ice Age series, is an Emmy nominee for the web series Con Man, which he created and stars in. The show is based on his experience at fan conventions following his Firefly role. 

Lawrence (Walton Goggins)

Walton Goggins, who joins the Maze Runner franchise for the trilogy capper The Death Cure, is another veteran character actor who should be plenty recognizable to fans. The actor is best known for his starring role as the villainous Boyd Crowder on the FX series Justified, for which he earned a Emmy nomination in 2011.

After guest-starring on shows like Beverly Hills, 90210, JAG, and NYPD Blue, and appearing in films like Murder in Mississippi and Shanghai Noon, Goggins starred in the short film The Accountant, which won an Academy Award. In 2002, he appeared in The Bourne Identity before joining the FX crime drama The Shield, on which he starred for all seven seasons.

After finishing The Shield, Goggins booked appearances in Straw Dogs, Predators, and Cowboys and Aliens before landing a recurring, and perhaps groundbreaking, guest role on FX's Sons of Anarchy. He earned two Critics' Choice TV Award nominations for the part. Throughout his time on the show, he also appeared on the big screen in Lincoln, Django Unchained, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Machete Kills.

More recently, Goggins has starred in American Ultra and Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, the latter of which earned him a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He had a role on the History Channel miniseries Six and also made a memorable guest appearance on the NBC cult favorite Community. He recently starred on HBO's raunchy comedy Vice Principals, had a guest spot on CBS hit Big Bang Theory, and will be seen in the upcoming features Tomb Raider, a reboot of the famed franchise, and Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp.