Thomas Brodie-Sangster looks younger than he is. He’s presently 25, but he doesn’t look to different from when he was a kid, when he acted in movies like “Love Actually” and “Nanny McPhee.” Naturally he’s still getting cast as youths. In the sequel “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” he reprises the role of Newt, one of a coterie of young people whose dystopian future involves being trapped in a booby-trapped, super-sized maze.
How did you prepare for the physical demands of the new movie?
It’s kind of a boot camp. I mean, that’s kind of a strong word. We went out a couple of weeks beforehand, just because Albuquerque is 5,000 feet above sea level, so the oxygen levels up there are quite different. It’s very easy to feel out of breath quickly. If you’re doing physical work, it does make a difference. You can feel it. Also it’s very dry. You’re kind of dried out. Your lips and eyes are crispy, and you wake up feeling weird. We went out two weeks beforehand and worked with our stunt crew who specialize in parkour and we went for desert runs.
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During the film, it’s obvious that each character looks out for each other. Is that what it’s like off-set?
Very much so, and I think that’s why we get that feeling within the film. We are incredibly lucky to get on that well because it’s very easy to take our off-set relationships into our characters. I think it makes the whole group feeling thing that much stronger.
What do you think about the future for young people?
I’ve always had the view that it’s not my place to see the future, but then again there’s the responsibility to think about the future. I believe in humanity, I believe in mankind and I believe that the natural instinct is to be kind. It’s only through bad experiences and upbringing that you end up with people who aren’t humanitarian. So I believe we’re good, but it’s kind of not my place to say.
Why are post-apocalyptic stories so popular with audiences at the moment?
I think when you get to your teenage years, it’s the first time you start asking questions and see the world through your own eyes and not through your parents or your teachers. It’s the first time you are aware that the world can be a bit of a dark place and that not everyone you meet is lovely. It’s the first time you become attracted to people; there are a lot of hormones going on, so it’s kind of a crazy point in your life, which I think can be related to in these characters.
Our characters are relatable, so they’re not over the top characters and you can take them and put them in any movie. That’s how young people are relating to us. Then we’re thrown into this world that is similar to a world you experience at that age, where you basically have more questions than answers and you realize that the only things that are important in life are your friends and family. That’s how you survive. There is a big bad ugly world out there, with corporations that have other views of how the world should be and you process that and try and deal with it the best you can.
What do you think the difference is between your franchise and “The Hunger Games”?
There are definitely similarities, but the way we deal with it is that we have our evil and the only way that we survive is by joining together. We’re not pitted against one another. It’s a fight for survival more then anything else, and WCKD — our technical bad guys — are doing exactly the same thing. They have good intentions, but it’s just they go about it in a weird way.
A lot of your family has a background in acting. Did you know it was something that you wanted to pursue too?
No not really. My mum was a ballerina but that’s a career like an athlete; you can’t keep doing that for the rest of your life. So when she quit, she always loved being on stage and tried acting. She’s also a singer-songwriter and my dad’s a musician and an actor, so I grew up in an arty family. But it wasn’t necessarily always acting, and to be honest, I kind of got the idea that most of acting was not getting jobs. [Laughs] I didn’t picture making Hollywood movies or anything like that, but when I saw them performing, I just saw people having fun and expressing themselves. [They were] basically playing, and I just thought that was really cool.
I didn’t go in trying to be an actor. I just went in as a kid trying to have fun and be a different character and that was slowly something that I fell in love with. I then fell in love with cameras and equipment. Back then it was shot on regular film. I remember they would give me a B-camera to play with and I would get to load the film and check the gate. I loved all of that. I was lucky enough that it grew from there.