The Heartbreaking Accident That Put A Pause on Dylan O’Brien’s Career

Being an action star is not always an easy path to riches without taking into account the physical and mental risks involved. Despite the use of stunt doubles being a given, actors are still expected to do some easier stunts on their own. Such was the case with Dylan O’Brien, best known for The Maze Runner franchise.

While O’Brien first found fame in Teen Wolf on TV, it was thought he’d find bigger fortunes in the TMR movies. Unfortunately, those movies sputtered out, but not before he had a fateful accident in the last movie.

During the filming of The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (film #3), he ended up seriously injuring himself during a stunt. His recovery was a long one afterward, though bringing bigger questions on whether actors should really attempt doing stunts on their own.

What happened to cause Dylan O’Brien’s accident?

Dylan O'Brien poses at the premier of 'Bumblebee'
Dylan O’Brien | Michael Tran/FilmMagic

One has to wonder what the director and producer of The Death Cure were thinking by having Dylan O’Brien doing a dangerous stunt on a train. In the scene, a train and two trucks were involved, which was already complex coordination. O’Brien was struck by one of the vehicles and reportedly run over.

For someone a little older, this could have been fatal. Since O’Brien was still in his early 20s, he survived, though the injuries were severe. It’s an out and out miracle he lived, even though he refuses to this day to discuss how bad his injuries were.

Initially, the director said O’Brien wasn’t hurt on a critical level and would likely return to shooting the film within a short time. This didn’t happen, and it ultimately involved six months of grueling recovery.

No questions have to be asked proving how serious O’Brien’s injuries were with a recovery taking this long. What made it worse was psychological pressure to get back into finishing the film.

Clamoring to get the film released

While the production crew allowed Dylan O’Brien to take the time needed to recover, it would be a year before The Death Cure finally finished filming. In the meantime, O’Brien said he went through a lot of psychological hell getting himself back in shape.

He admits the studio pressured him to get back in the saddle sooner than he should have. At least he didn’t acquiesce to their demands, something one has to wonder happens with other actors too often when injured on film sets.

More than a few actors in Hollywood history insisted on doing their own stunts, sometimes to the chagrin of the directors or studios. Names like Burt Reynolds come to mind as just one example. James Garner and Burt Lancaster were two other icons who did the same.

In the case of Reynolds, he always regretted doing one particular stunt attempted in 1972’s Deliverance. He went over a waterfall, nearly killing him. In later years, he suffered physical pain as a result of other stunts done in his movies.

Doing one’s own stunts could affect an actor physically for life

Even names like James Garner had health issues later in life because he always demanded to do stunts that a stunt double should have stood in to do. Dylan O’Brien may end up being like this in time since he’s back to doing his own stunts again now.

Before he finally finished his role in The Death Cure, he acted in another action film called American Assassin. For this film, he had a stunt coordinator who made sure he stayed as safe as possible. The film also put O’Brien back into a better state of mind about his physical abilities.

Should he avoid stunts completely now, though? At the moment, he’s filming another action movie and doing some risky things. Some actors are speaking out against actors who keep insisting on doing this, including names like Danny Trejo, saying this is what trained stunt doubles are trained to do in the industry.

Maybe there’s a compulsion in some actors worrying they’ll be deemed weak if they rely on stunt doubles, which is really an archaic thought in the times we live.