'Teen Wolf's Dylan O'Brien Would Be Perfect for Any John Green Project & Here's Why
In less than two months, the film adaptation of John Green's beloved YA novel The Fault In Our Stars hits theaters. Considering the phenomenal popularity of the book, and the sheer anticipation surrounding the movie's release, it's probably safe to say that this is far from the last we'll be seeing of Green or his work when it comes to major feature films. Paper Towns, another one of his novels, has already been announced as the next adaptation, and it's already got a leading man in the form of Fault's Nat Wolff. But what about Looking For Alaska?
Looking For Alaska has, as of yet, not been announced as an upcoming adaptation. This makes some sense: The Fault In Our Stars hasn't even hit theaters yet, so studios might not want to dump all their eggs in one John Green basket by moving forward with everything in sight before they even see how Fault will perform at the box office.
But if my instincts are correct when it comes to Fault's crossover potential — aka the likelihood that teens and adults alike will flock to that theater and willingly allow Green's narrative to beat the tears out of them — it's only a matter of time before we get Alaska. Looking For Alaska was, after all, the book that landed Green a respected space on the YA map: It was his first novel, and the one that won him the Printz Award. More recently, in 2012, it broke into the New York Times bestseller list, seven years after its initial release. The time for Looking For Alaska is now. And while I'm still open to a wide variety of Alaskas, we've already got a perfect Miles "Pudge" Halter — and it's Dylan O'Brien.
O'Brien — known at this stage mainly as one of the star's of MTV's Teen Wolf and of the upcoming Maze Runner movies — was actually my personal first choice to play Augustus Waters back when the Fault In Our Stars movie was initially announced. Ansel Elgort got the role instead, of course, and I have no doubt he'll do the role justice. But there's still time for Looking For Alaska, so now's when I rail into the ether until someone makes this one happen. And hey, O'Brien and Green hung out at Sunday's MTV Movie Awards, all casual, like they don't know full well the frenzy two such adored teen figures could cause, particularly when it comes to fanning the flames of the casting dreams of their overlapping audience.
But the Instagram comments tell me there's an audience for O'Brien as Pudge:
For those unfamiliar with Looking For Alaska, it's told from the perspective of Miles "Pudge" Halter as he moves his life to an Alabama boarding school (based off of Green's own experiences at an Alabama boarding school). The Alaska of the title is a girl at said boarding school: An enigmatic, captivating, troubled young woman who stands at the center of the novel's mystery. Pudge, for his part, is our narrator, our audience proxy, our entrance into this world and the lens through which we see Alaska and the rest of their friends.
For those unfamiliar with Dylan O'Brien, he's the best young actor on the underrated Teen Wolf. This is not to say that the rest of that cast isn't full of talent, because they are — it's just to say that Dylan O'Brien is really good. In this season of Teen Wolf, for instance, (minor spoilers) his character was possessed by a demon, and in the spiraling of that storyline O'Brien found himself responsible for playing two very different characters, who sometimes had to play each other. He did so with startling dynamism, pivoting from straight-up villain, to the supernatural-suffering modern Seth Cohen he normally plays, and back, hitting practically every emotion along the way.
Teen Wolf executive producer Jeff Davis has never shied away from his thoughts on O'Brien's big future:
When you find someone like Dylan O’Brien, who has this charisma, it is just unquantifiable that now you’ve got a star. It doesn’t surprise me. I think he’s got a huge career ahead of him. I think he will be like winning Oscars. It would not surprise me. Look at Leonardo DiCaprio who started in a TV show when he was a teenager, Growing Pains. He had that same charisma.
O'Brien's already got a fervent — if relatively small — fanbase, largely consisting of the same demographic that lies at the center of John Green novels — the same kind of fanbase that puts a lot of butts in movie theater chairs and helped films like The Hunger Games and Twilight blow up like they did. And Davis' opinion is not unique to him; most people who watch Teen Wolf just kind of know it's only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on to the secret of O'Brien's potential.
O'Brien seems to be the type of actor who could nail not only the emotional gravity Looking For Alaska requires, but the wit, innocence, and fun that infuses the story as well. Considering also the delicate line the Pudge-Alaska relationship walks, he also seems the kind of actor who could embody the pining aspect of the story without tipping over into the realm of insufferable. Looking For Alaska's a YA classic for a reason, and it deserves an actor who can embody what it's really saying.
No matter how Maze Runner does, I think what O'Brien really needs is a Miles Teller moment: A truly juicy, meaty coming of age story to grab hold of and show the world what he's really got going on. I'm no film executive — the ones in charge of this particular case live over at Paramount, where I'm sure they'll be dusting off the rights to the film the second Fault hits it big(ger). This isn't my decision — hell, it's not even John Green's decision. And if this movie happens without Dylan O'Brien, I'll live.
But it should happen with Dylan O'Brien. It's really for the best.