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The Untold Truth Of The Maze Runner

Young Adult trilogies have been a box office staple since the early 2000s, but they have fallen to the wayside since the hit "Maze Runner" trilogy concluded in 2018. With the Dylan O'Brien and Kaya Scodelario-led series marking the conclusion of a wave of dystopian teenage movie franchises, fans are missing the likes of Thomas and Teresa on the big screen as they fight the shady WCKD organization and try to cure a pandemic. 

But just because there aren't any new films doesn't mean we can't go down memory lane to look back at the delightful (and horrifying) moments that happened both on and off the screen throughout the "Maze Runner" trilogy. Between an author cameo, terrifying on-set conditions, and a K-pop homage, the "Maze Runner" series has a slew of Easter eggs and behind-the-scenes moments that even the most discerning fans might have missed. Did you catch these details when you watched the series for the first (or 40th) time? 

The Twitter casting

Most fans dream about getting hired as actors on their favorite film franchise, but few live out their fantasy. However, 12-year-old Blake Cooper won that honor after firing up a tweetstorm expressing his desire to play Chuck in "The Maze Runner." Even before the films were underway, director Wes Ball was available and willing to listen to the fandom — helping Cooper snag the role of Chuck after a fan-led Twitter campaign.

During an interview with Collider, producer Wyck Godfrey said, "With Chuck, the funny thing is that Wes kept on getting these tweets from this little guy in Atlanta, like 'I'm your Chuck, I'm your Chuck!'" Godfrey noted, "Eventually (Wes) was like, 'Eh, you kind of look like Chuck, the casting director is Denise Chamian. Contact her, I'll tell her you're going to contact her. Send in an audition!'"

The young actor still had to work for his role, of course, but his audition sealed the deal. Ball announced the casting decision on Twitter, bringing everything full-circle. The young actor earned nothing but high praise from his co-stars, too. In a separate Collider interview, O'Brien revealed, "As far as the character goes, he's got Chuck down. He is Chuck. It's great working with him."

James Dashner appeared in a cameo

Fans of the "Maze Runner" books may have noticed a familiar face at the end of the first film. In 2012, author James Dashner tweeted, "I'd love to have a cameo in the movie!!!" He later got his wish. Moviegoers who didn't read the books or follow the author may have missed it, but Dashner has a cameo at the first film's conclusion.

Instead of playing a good guy (do those even exist in this series?) Dashner plays one of Ava Paige's henchmen — an orchestrator of the Maze Trials. The author sits at the top left corner at the sleek-looking table (just to the left of a bald man) when Ava declares the Trials a success and also reveals that she "wasn't expecting as many survivors." Charming, Ava.

After the hurdles Dashner went through to get his brainchild published, it's not surprising that he wanted a little piece of the film's glory. It took the writer three years of multiple drafts and a slew of rejections before Random House published "The Maze Runner" in 2009.

Easter eggs at Memorial Rock

Some YA franchises are unwilling to kill off beloved characters, but "The Maze Runner" certainly isn't one of them. If you compare the number of main characters who survived the series to those who didn't, the death rates are staggering. And that brings us to the remembrance depicted in the final film, "The Death Cure." To honor their fallen friends, the surviving Gladers create the Memorial Rock — reminiscent of the carvings each Glader adds to the Maze when they first arrive.

When Thomas etches his name on the Maze wall, discerning fans may have noticed two extra names: "Wes" and "Wyck." Of course, the Easter eggs are referencing none other than director Wes Ball and producer Wyck Godfrey. Paying homage to the original carvings, Ball got another carved shout-out in the Memorial Rock depicted in the series's final moments. Godfrey must have survived the events of the series because his name appears to be absent.

Airing a Griever-ance

The "Maze Runner" universe is chock full of creepy crawlers. However, fans might not realize that there was a genuine threat slithering out in the Glade for every prop creature like the Grievers. Sure, Grievers are creepy, but many cast members likely preferred the mechanical spiders to the real thing. And let's face it: The only Black Widow most people dig is a certain fiery red-headed Avenger.

Cue Dylan O'Brien and Thomas Brodie-Sangster's surprise when two of the deadly spiders popped out of a log they'd been filming at for hours. Brodie-Sangster must be a thrill-seeker, though, as he told Page Six, "It kind of added to the excitement." (You do you, Sangster.) He also told the outlet, "We were seeing 10 snakes a day at the beginning, and then by the end, we were still catching four a day."

The problem was significant enough to hire a professional snake wrangler to make sure the cast stayed safe — but that didn't stop one crew member from getting bitten by a baby rattlesnake. Sangster told Vulture that baby rattlesnakes "don't know how much venom to release, so they tend to release everything." Luckily, the bite wasn't serious. The actor added, "Apparently it was a dry bite — no venom. He did get rushed to the hospital, just in case, though."

No love triangles necessary

A successful YA franchise without a forced love triangle is almost unheard of — but "The Maze Runner" film series wrangled success without partaking in that outdated trope. Between the Edward/Bella/Jacob triangle in "Twilight" and the Peeta/Katniss/Gale drama in "The Hunger Games," it's surprising that the studio didn't pressure Wes Ball to go that route. And it only makes the story stronger.

The books seem to insert Brenda into the series for the sole purpose of shaking things up between Teresa and Thomas, diluting an otherwise strong female character. Instead of falling down that rabbit hole, nothing overtly romantic between Thomas and Brenda happens on-screen, allowing her character to develop organically. There's something to be said for ditching the love triangle concept, and maybe a YA comeback will occur if more film adaptations go the "Maze Runner" route. 

During an interview with DiscussingFilm.net, Ball noted that they "didn't waste our time with that kind of stigma." He added, "We kind of left out the romance triangle stuff and other angsty coming-of-age aspects. I was just trying to make a cool, fun movie with the resources that we had." Mission accomplished.

James Dashner surprised a NY audience

When "The Maze Runner" family wasn't giving young actors on Twitter the chance of a lifetime, they were surprising fans in the most dramatic way possible. After the studio announced a New York City event titled "The Maze Runner Meet Up With James Dashner," fans were expecting a screening of the first film at the Tribeca Screening Room. But they got so much more.

Fans were promised a sneak peek of the opening scene from "The Death Cure" when they entered the small theater weeks before its release, even signing a hefty amount of legal paperwork to keep things under wraps before entering. So you can imagine fans' disappointment when the moderator announced that the film reel was damaged.

Of course, they were just trolling the fans, and the event was a secret premiere of the entire "Death Cure" film. While fans in attendance didn't get to see the cast, they were one of the first audiences in the world to see the film — even before the red carpet premiere. Many fans even got to meet Dashner after the movie. And to think, the postponed event was almost canceled entirely because of a snowstorm.

Scodelario and O'Brien picked up a pen

Kaya Scodelario and Dylan O'Brien certainly showcased their acting chops during the "Maze Runner" trilogy, but little-known to most fans, the pair also displayed impressive writing capabilities. Few people know characters better than the actors who portray them, and that was the case for Scodelario and O'Brien during the scene in "The Scorch Trials" where Teresa tries to convince Thomas to go back to WCKD. Lying to Thomas, she tells him that she's getting her memories back. (Spoiler alert: she never lost them.) Teresa recalls, "I remember the first time they brought you in. I was taller than you then and faster." 

Scodelario revealed to Front Row Features that she and O'Brien were the masterminds behind the short exchange. She said, "You know what was cool? We wrote that. We wanted to add a moment of humanity." Given that Thomas and Teresa's relationship is primarily doom, gloom, lying, and tragedy, Scodelario added, "We wanted to just take a second and show a bit of love to each other. And I think it's such a beautiful way of doing it — like innocent little kids meeting for the first time." Someone get these actors an Oscar – for writing.

The cast slept in the Glade

When people think of sleepovers, there are usually four walls, beds, and a few sleeping bags involved. But as badass as the "Maze Runner" characters are, the actors aren't far behind. On-set bonding before shooting consisted of an intensive boot camp that would have broken even the strongest spirits — but the cast prevailed. Not only that, but they took it 10 steps further and insisted on spending a night out in the Glade.

The Glade isn't just some set on a backlot, either. It was built in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and filled with snakes and other creepy crawlers. In an interview with Collider, Wyck Godfrey noted that he tried to convince Wes Ball from going through with the event, but the director was persistent. Godfrey said, "Then the actors came and did boot camp out here, and they were working with this ranger that was teaching them all this survivalist stuff, and at some point, they brought it up independently to [Ball]. They said, 'Can we stay out here?'"

Ball gave a resounding "yes." Luckily, the cast had tents, but they were no match for the massive thunderstorm that followed. Godfrey explained that the actors probably would have reconsidered their choice to spend the night had they known about all of the creatures. But according to cast member Thomas Brodie-Sangster, the actors were very aware of the dangers. They even had two Marines accompany them on their training and camping adventure.

BTS referenced the trilogy in a music video

Fans of the K-pop group BTS continually find pop culture references in the group's music. But some Easter eggs are easier to uncover than others. Discovering small nods to literary, musical, and TV influences has become almost a game to the fandom, with fans frequently taking to social media to discuss their finds.

For example, the group's 2017 song "Spring Day" likely references the Korean film "Snowpiercer." But the musical group occasionally dabbles in American film references as well, as we can see in their music video, "On." The references are subtle enough until around the mid-mark when two massive doors open — looking eerily similar to the maze doors in "The Maze Runner." Then an army of Gladers shows up and BTS singer Jungkook, imitating Thomas, blows a conch (a nod to "Lord of the Flies") before the video ends with a Flare-fueled sky.

"The Maze Runner" author James Dashner sent out a tweet acknowledging the video. He wrote, "So cool to see #MazeRunner featured in the new #BTS music video #ON. Jungkook = amazing as Thomas!" The moment was likely notable for Dylan O'Brien as well, considering he frequently gushes about the K-pop group. The actor is reportedly responsible for turning other stars like Max Minghella and Elle Fanning into fans.

Kaya Scodelario's Maze Runner family

Some of Kaya Scodelario's most significant life moments with her husband Benjamin Walker occurred during the trilogy's filming. Scodelario posted a photo of her diamond-clad ring finger on Instagram in December 2014 during the filming of "The Scorch Trials." Later, Scodelario and Walker had to postpone their wedding plans to promote "The Scorch Trials," although the couple eventually tied the knot in December 2015.

Scodelario announced her pregnancy in June 2016, and later posted a picture of her baby boy in December — just months before "The Death Cure" began filming. Scodelario shared how it felt to be a new mom during filming with On Demand Entertainment: "I'm fortunate to have a husband who's an amazing co-parent, and he [Walker] came out with the baby to Africa," she said. "He had his own trailer...But it's nice because he kind of just became part of our 'Maze Runner' family."

The actress revealed that Ki Hong Lee (Minho) had a daughter born about a week apart from Scodelario's son, noting that the two babies "were like little buddies" on set. Scodelario also recalled a breastfeeding story to Marie Claire where she said to O'Brien and Brodie-Sangster, "Boys, you're going to have to deal with this." Luckily, she noted, "No one was weird about it. They know me well enough to know that I would have punched them if they were." 

The cast may have stolen Native American artifacts

Beyond the fact that any horror movie will show you why it's officially a Bad Idea to steal artifacts from sacred Native American sites, it's also just a jerk move. Now, nobody is perfect, and we all do things we regret — and by all accounts, "The Maze Runner" cast was a lovely group of talented (and relatively young) actors. However, it seems like they may have gotten a little too cozy while filming in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

If you steal something from a heavily guarded set, it's probably not the best idea to allude to it on live television — but that's precisely what Dylan O'Brien did during an interview on "Live with Kelly and Michael." After revealing that the owner explicitly directed the cast to avoid littering or pocketing anything from Diamond Tail Ranch, O'Brien said, "And everyone just takes stuff, you know, obviously." From there, he noted that the set radiated a horror movie vibe with a string of unexplained sicknesses following the potential sticky fingers situation.

O'Brien didn't admit that he partook in such activities — although he did reveal that he got sick. But despite O'Brien's initial comments, and after a thorough investigation from 20th Century Fox, the studio deemed that the cast didn't actually take anything from the sacred set.

Wes Ball is done with the series

Although James Dashner wrote two prequels to "The Maze Runner," Wes Ball made it clear that he wouldn't take part in any more big screen spinoffs. In 2018, the director told Yahoo Entertainment that the possibility of future "Maze Runner" projects was not for him: "I'm done — I'm moving on." But you can't blame the guy given how rigorous (and dangerous) filming was.

"The Scorch Trials" background actor John McGarrah, who played a Right Arm Militia member, said, "I personally burned my hair and costume during filming, and I ended up with a lung infection from smoke inhalation — a lot of us did." However, he has no regrets: "I'd do it again in a heartbeat! I had the time of my life on that movie."

Ball may not want to direct any more "Maze Runner" films, but McGarrah is itching to work with him again, noting, "He's the best director I've ever worked for." McGarrah also praised the cast, revealing, "Dylan was awesome – they all were to the background. It wasn't one of these sets where the primaries were hustled into heated tents with huge jackets. They were all just as miserable as us." McGarrah recalled the story of Ball's daughter's teddy bear, named Poopy, which went missing (and was possibly stolen) on set. Everyone pitched in to find it, but to no avail. Maybe Poopy is the real reason Ball wants to leave his "Maze Runner" days behind. 

Dylan O'Brien had a scary stunt accident

Every director's biggest fear is someone getting hurt on set. Wes Ball had to face that reality when a stunt gone wrong severely injured Dylan O'Brien during the filming of "The Death Cure." What he expected to be a reasonably simple sequence almost turned deadly when a wayward stunt car collided with the actor, sending him to the hospital with a head injury. At the time, it was unclear whether or not O'Brien would survive his injuries, but he made a full recovery, much to everyone's relief.

O'Brien reflected on the accident during an interview with Variety, noting, "I think that it absolutely, completely rewires and restructures the way you see your life and what you deem important." The actor mentioned taking a hard look at his relationships and making time for the people he cares about. He also revealed that he examines stunt equipment much more thoroughly and suffers from anxiety during heavy action sequences.

O'Brien insisted that Ball use the scene, however. He told USA Today, "[Ball] wanted to run [it] by me, or get my blessing ... My response was actually like, 'I need you to, in a way.' I would be more heartbroken than if it just went to waste." The scene did end up in the film — though it's hard for fans to watch the infamous train scene without feeling queasy, knowing what O'Brien went through.

Dylan O'Brien's accident changed the director

Dylan O'Brien hasn't been the same since his accident on the set of "The Maze Runner," but he's not the only one. Director Wes Ball was shaken to the core by this incident. "I've been overwhelmed with feelings of anger and sadness and guilt. But, ultimately I find myself left with a deep love and respect for Dylan," he wrote on Twitter (via Entertainment Weekly).

O'Brien had been in a car that was only traveling 10 miles per hour, and yet he still got hurt, which forced Ball to reconsider all the safety procedures he had been using. After O'Brien recovered, Ball told him, "I'm never going to put you on a moving vehicle. You'll be static in a parking lot," according to Yahoo Entertainment. When they re-shot the train sequence, the train was stationary the whole time; the VFX team altered it in post-production to make it seem like it was moving at breakneck speed.

Ball admitted that he took it for granted that the enthusiastic O'Brien could handle such intense shoots. Yet the one thing he didn't consider were all the factors beyond his control. From that moment forward, Ball has been extra conscious of safety. He told Yahoo, "My basic approach now is that I'll never ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn't do myself."

Dylan O'Brien almost didn't get the part

Although it's easy to take the casting of "The Maze Runner" for granted, the movie almost had somebody different in the lead role. In an interview with Collider, Wes Ball recalled sifting through audition tapes, and when he first saw Dylan O'Brien, Ball dismissed him as not right for the part. "I overlooked him because of his hair," said Ball. "He had 'Teen Wolf' hair and I couldn't see past that." The director explained that Thomas needed to start out vulnerable before emerging as a strong leader, and Ball wasn't sure if O'Brien could do vulnerable, since he played a brash and sarcastic character in "Teen Wolf." "It [can't] be like this badass action star that comes into this movie," said Ball, and O'Brien seemed a bit too badass for his liking.

Later, 20th Century Fox approached the director with a recommended casting choice: O'Brien, who had just appeared in "The Internship." "So I watched his tape," said Ball, "and was like 'Wait a minute, I've seen this kid before.'" He realized that it was the exact same actor who had auditioned for the movie earlier — and that he had almost missed somebody who was perfect for the part. The director was now convinced that O'Brien could totally play vulnerable, so he brought the actor on right away.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster almost forgot he auditioned

Dylan O'Brien as Thomas wasn't the only casting choice that almost didn't happen. It turns out that Thomas Brodie-Sangster might have ended up playing Gally instead of Newt. In an interview with Fr Conventions, the actor shared that he not only auditioned for Newt but also for Gally, because he was fascinated by both characters. Newt and Gally are basically polar opposites, so it's strange to imagine what Brodie-Sangster would have looked like as the secondary villain of "The Maze Runner" instead of Thomas' faithful ally.

In the same interview, Brodie-Sangster recalled waiting about three months for a response, so he assumed it just wasn't going to happen and began to move on. That was when his agent called to inform him that he'd gotten the part. "No call back, no meeting with the director," said Brodie-Sangster. "Just, 'You got it.'" He admitted that he wasn't even sure at first which part he had gotten, because it had been so long since the audition. His reaction was, "Great, I've got a job, but I have no idea what it is."

Eventually, Brodie-Sangster connected the dots. But even then, he wasn't necessarily jumping for joy. He explained that he usually doesn't get excited about his film projects until his first day on the set, but once he arrived at the set of "The Maze Runner" and met the crew, he couldn't wait to get started.

Newt forgets his limp in the sequels

In the books, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) has a limp, the result of an attempt to kill himself while he's still in the maze. Many fans were dismayed when it seemed like Newt's limp was omitted from the movie, but observant viewers noticed that Newt does indeed have a subtle limp in "The Maze Runner." This was confirmed by an interview with the director and a deleted scene from the third film in which Newt explains how he got his limp.

However, Newt's iconic limp doesn't always show in the film's sequels. Speaking about "The Scorch Trials," Brodie-Sangster admitted to Fresh Fiction TV, "It took me awhile to realize which side my limp was on. I forgot." He also shared that he abandoned his character's limp completely for certain scenes, telling ScreenRant, "I sort of decided that Newt doesn't have a limp when running up sand dunes." 

At first Brodie-Sangster made an effort to maintain the limp, but after climbing up and down dunes all day, the actor quickly discovered it was too difficult. Besides, the limp wasn't even recognizable anymore. "I tried it and it just looks like I am struggling and just being weird," Brodie-Sangster explained, adding, "I just thought I should get up the sand dune." Hopefully this inconsistency will go unnoticed to all but the most devoted "Maze Runner" fans.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Kaya Scodelario was terrified watching the final film

You would think that if an actor spent more than a year working on a movie, they would be desensitized to even the most shocking jump scares. Not Kaya Scodelario, who was caught off guard when she finally saw "The Maze Runner" in theaters. Scodelario admitted to Collider that she screamed a few times. The actress needed to remind herself, "Calm down Kaya, for god's sake, it's your movie."

What probably creeped her out the most were the Grievers. After all, it's not like the cast got a chance to see these CGI creatures while they were filming. Suffice it to say that the Grievers were a teensy bit less terrifying without special effects. Jacob Latimore described to The Hollywood Reporter what the cast members saw instead: "Little guys in blue suits and a couple tennis balls." So it's no wonder that Scodelario screamed when she saw them for the first time.

The actress told Collider precisely what made the Grievers' impact so visceral, saying, "They're not just scary, they're physically — ugh, disgusting." She added, "It's not just fear, it's a different feeling all together. That's what interested me the most about them. I could almost feel them on me and smell them." If you create a movie monster that even scares the cast members, that's when you know you've got a truly horrifying creature.

The Grievers were kept out of the trailers

Like Kaya Scodelario, audiences needed to wait until the movie's release date to actually see the Grievers. The creatures were noticeably absent from the trailers for "The Maze Runner." Sure, fans glimpsed a leg here or a tail there, but never the monster in its entirety.

This was completely intentional; Wes Ball made a point to keep the Grievers out of the movie's marketing campaign. As he explained to Den of Geek, the last thing he wanted was for fans to "see these trailers and ... think 'I've [seen] the movie!'" It would have spoiled the reveal in the actual movie, not to mention stripped the creatures of all their creep factor, since fans would already know exactly what to expect. 

Since Ball cited "Alien" as a source of inspiration for the Grievers, it makes sense that he would borrow a page from the same book as the classic horror film: waiting until the last possible moment to reveal the monster. "We build up so much suspense to the reveal of the Grievers that, if you'd seen them in a trailer, it would have been a waste," said Ball. Of course, Ball was willing to give a select group of fans a preview of the creatures before the movie's release date. At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, Ball shared an exclusive clip that showed the Grievers in all their disgusting glory.

Real actors were dangling in WCKD's lab

Although "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" omitted a memorable scene from the book in which the Gladers find their rescuers hanging from the ceiling, Wes Ball wanted to preserve the eerie image of dangling bodies, at least in a different form. So he came up with the idea that WCKD would suspend kids from the ceiling like they were nothing but slabs of meat and then drain fluids from their bodies in search of a cure.

This made things a little more complicated for the stunt team. It turns out there were actual actors hanging from the ceiling in special harnesses — and it wasn't very comfortable for them. In a behind-the-scenes featurette, producer Wyck Godfrey explained, "We would bring in boxes for them to stand on in between takes," but the actors would need to hang there while the camera was rolling. 

Godfrey added, "In the way in which they were hanging ... you could only do it for like, three minutes, because you would almost start to pass out because it starts to ... cut your bloodflow." As a result, this simple scene was just as dangerous as any of the more action-heavy scenes from the "Maze Runner" trilogy. According to Godfrey, "They had to play dead, and we had to make sure they could play dead without actually making them dead." Dangling, it turns out, is dangerous work.

James Dashner thinks the movies are better than the books

James Dashner, who wrote the books that the "Maze Runner" movies are based on, has given the films his stamp of approval. The author has said that he often envisions his novels as if they're movies while he's writing them, so turning "The Maze Runner" into a movie was the next logical step.

Right from the start, director Wes Ball showed an immense respect for the author and the fans of the book. According to Dashner (via a behind-the-scenes featurette), Ball reached out to him right away and said, "I want you to give me a list of things that your fans would hate me for if I changed." Their collaboration continued throughout all three "Maze Runner" movies. For most of the major changes that happened between the book and the screen, Dashner gave the filmmakers his blessing. "I would guess I'm the harshest critic because I wrote it," he told Collider, "and I am fully supportive and love the small changes that had to be made."

In a behind-the-scenes clip for "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials," Dashner described Ball as "The only guy who could've made my book into a movie." He even gave Ball the highest praise any author can give a filmmaker who is adapting their book for the screen: "Dashner ... said we were better than the books!" the director told Den of Geek. "I don't know if he was being nice," Ball added, "but I'll take it!"

The first film made back 10 times its budget

The budget of the first movie in the "Maze Runner" trilogy was surprisingly small for a blockbuster: only $34 million. In fact, Wes Ball told Yahoo Entertainment, "The combined cost of all three movies is what most single tentpole movies cost." Yet on opening weekend, "The Maze Runner" almost made back its entire budget with a haul of $32.5 million. The film proceeded to earn 10 times its budget at the worldwide box office, bringing in more than $348 million.

Not too shabby for a movie released in the usually quiet month of September. "The Maze Runner" holds the honor of being one of the most successful September movies ever, earning a spot among the top 20 biggest September opening weekends at the domestic box office. For the sequels, 20th Century Fox continued the strategy of releasing them in a month without much competition. "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" had another September release, while "Maze Runner: The Death Cure" did what almost no self-respecting blockbuster would dare attempt: it arrived in January.

Nevertheless, this move paid off. "Maze Runner: The Death Cure" received the third-widest release of any January film, playing in a large number of theaters that would only be surpassed by "Kung Fu Panda 3" and "Dolittle." Of course, fans didn't flock to the theaters as much as the studio hoped, but the film still made it into Box Office Mojo's top 50 opening weekends for the month of January.

The director views each movie as a different stage of growing up

Wes Ball likes to think of the "Maze Runner" movies as a metaphor for growing up. He told One Room with a View, "The first movie, for me, is very much like high school; how you don't have an identity, and latch onto one to navigate the dangers outside your home world." Teenagers may recognize some of their own lives in the Glade: the bully, the new girl, and the kid that wants to be everybody's friend. When the Gladers escape the maze, it's like graduating from high school. 

Then they find out that the real world is even more dangerous than the maze, which may feel familiar to anybody who has graduated high school. The second film, according to Ball, is almost like college. "You find yourself in this new world; out of the frying pan and into the fire — what the hell do I do now?" he said. Much like college students, the Gladers must adapt to their new world in "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials."

If the second movie represents secondary education, then the third film, "The Death Cure," embodies everything that comes after — in other words, adulting. Ball told Yahoo Entertainment, "This one is about journeying into adulthood and finding out the world isn't black and white, but gray and complicated." In this film, Thomas must step up to lead the revolution, but he's no longer sure who the good guys are.

Wes Ball rubbed O'Brien's eyes for him

The scene in "The Maze Runner" where Thomas climbs the walls of the maze was tricky to shoot. It was far too time-consuming to raise and lower Dylan O'Brien between takes, so the filmmakers left him up there all day while they were shooting — sometimes for as long as eight hours. "Wes [Ball] would come over and keep me company," O'Brien recalled to Front Row Features. The director even passed up some food, which O'Brien would eat while up on the wall.

Unfortunately, they were shooting an action sequence, which meant that pieces of the ivy would often flake off and get in O'Brien's eye. The actor couldn't rub his eyes, but luckily he had somebody else to rub them for him. O'Brien told Brite and Bubbly, "Wes would just be like I got it, baby. Don't need a medic. And he'd come over, and he'd literally just take it out of my eye."

You can't help but admire a director who goes to such great lengths to ensure the comfort of his cast members, even if it means doing something awkward like sticking his finger in their eyes. "Before that, I was never someone who was comfortable having someone touch their eyeball. But now I am," O'Brien concluded. We knew that filming "The Maze Runner" was a transformative experience for O'Brien, but we never would have guessed that it changed his position on eyeball-touching.

The sweat on the actors' faces was real

Since "The Maze Runner" is a movie, surely the makeup artists simply worked their magic on the actors' faces to make it seem like they had just run a mile, right? Nope. The cast of "The Maze Runner" actually worked up a sweat the old-fashioned way.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster told Vulture, "When you see sweat on us in the film, that's real sweat." Likewise, Will Poulter never needed a makeup artist to make him look clammy — if anything, he recalled that he needed the makeup team to intervene with a towel because his face was getting too sweaty. Dylan O'Brien shared that he often felt exhausted but pointed out to The Hollywood Reporter that this was precisely the point: "The more tired I was, the better, because that's entirely what it's supposed to be. [Thomas is] a kid, not an Olympian." Brodie-Sangster agreed, insisting that he didn't mind working on location in a humid Louisiana swamp. "I much prefer that to working in some studio somewhere," he told Vulture.

To encourage his cast members, Wes Ball would always tell them, "Pain is temporary ... film is forever" (per Collider). Of course, these aren't just empty words from a director who makes his actors do all the hard work. Instead, Ball was down on the ground with them, getting dirty too. He even has a sweat stain on his baseball cap to prove it.