So Appetizing: Dylan O’Brien on The First Time and Teen Wolf

The film's unique take on teenaged communication and meeting the original Stiles from Teen Wolf.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


I saw The First Time at Sundance and was impressed how gently it portrayed two teens having their first relationship. Nine months later, The First Time opens in theaters and we got to sit down with Dylan O’Brien, who plays Dave to Britt Robertson’s Aubrey. We got to chat about the film, his time on “Teen Wolf” and those talented Kasdan boys. Jon, who we spoke with also, is the son of Lawrence and brother of Jake.

CraveOnline: Did you shoot a whole season of “Teen Wolf” between Sundance and now?

Dylan  O’Brien: I was in the middle of a season of “Teen Wolf” at Sundance so I finished it off in April. Then I haven’t been doing “Teen Wolf” since.

Is it nice to play a good, well meaning teenager versus the sort of troubled characters we often get to see, even though those are juicy parts too?

Yeah, yes, it’s funny about this part because I don't think anybody would consider it maybe a juicy part off the page. I’m not saying it comes off that way when you see the screen or anything. What makes it juicy to me is the fact that it’s really common and it’s really real. It’s just easy for me to connect to in the sense that I had just been through it and everybody kind of goes through it in their own way, you know. So the part for me was so appetizing because it a chance to be honest. I think that’s such a difficult thing for me in particular as an actor and I think depending on who you are can be difficult for other actors too. That was kind of like a hurdle for me to have to literally just play a character who has an inability to hide who he is or hide what he’s feeling. He wears everything. I’m so the opposite of that in real life where I’m just very internal and I very much hide who I am. That, to me, was what was really interesting about it and also that it was just a really sweet and smart script.

The way Jon writes it is very articulate and eloquent, but was it natural to say?

Yeah, and he would let me speak freely too. I would always say his lines but if there was ever anything, I always felt very comfortable with his words and even if I changed it a bit just dialect-wise, just said it in a way that I would say it more, it was always right. It was always natural. His dialogue, I could say his lines all day. He kind of writes in a way that connects to me as a person and how I talk and feel too I think.

It’s surely better scripted than people can think of off the top of their head, but is that good, to show the ideal of what communication could be?

Between two people?

Listen, when I talk, it’s not as smart as Jon’s writing. That’s why I prepare my questions in advance. So I was admiring how well these characters could communicate better than I can now, let alone when I was a teenager.

That’s a great note, man, because something that’s so amazing about Jon is his ability to communicate and his understanding of relationships and how people communicate. So it’s completely no surprise that you take that away from the film and that you’re right. That’s a big thing in the movie too, that it is just kind of really nice to see what good communication is like.

It’s wish fulfillment too. If only we could all express ourselves that well.

Right, right, it is kind of like a fantasy in that sense. Everybody thinks of all the stuff that they have going on in their head about their life and about their relationship or whatever, that’s all kind of portrayed in the movie I think. You kind of see everybody’s internal and external calendar or agenda in a way.

Did you shoot this before or during “Teen Wolf?”

I shot it after the shooting of season one of “Teen Wolf.”

Was it a fun transition to being first on the call sheet and the leading man role?

Yeah, that was cool. That’s never happened to me before. It doesn’t change anything for me really as an actor. If anything it takes away a little confidence for some reason. That’s just how I am as a person but I never thought about it I guess. It was just always very much in my mind, it was really just me, Britt and Jon and the three of us were very close, just very natural with our relationship with each other and just got along and just loved working together. I could’ve shot that movie forever. Jon just makes you feel very comfortable, especially with me. He’s really good with dealing with me, kind of giving me this confidence without me even knowing it. He’s just very good at making you feel like you’re never wrong, that there is no wrong that you can do, that you can’t mess up and that it’s just about finding what we can get and trying to get to a place that feels good, and then get to another place. If that feels good, then going somewhere else and seeing what the hell happens. It was just a very comfortable experience and in the aftermath, in hindsight, it’s kind of like yeah, there could have been a lot more pressure on my shoulders. I could have actually felt a lot more nervous for it and I think it’s all that guy who, without me even knowing it, made me feel just at home throughout the whole thing, like I was meant to be that part. He just never made me feel like I didn’t belong there I guess.

Have you only been acting for the two years that we’ve seen you?

Yeah, I’ve only been acting since I was 18 out of high school. Unless you can count my YouTube videos as acting but I never did. I only counted those as piecing together little shorts, filmmaking, like a little hint of filmmaking with me as my primary actor. I think that I really did not learn how to act for a while. I mean, I’m still learning. The thing I like a lot about acting is I’ll never learn enough. I’ll never know it inside and out. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried. Yeah, I did kind of just fall into it after high school.

Was this a big role to take on relatively new at your craft?

Yeah, again, I think so. If you look at it that way and I think I lucked out by never looking at it like that. Again, I just felt very comfortable saying Jon’s words in this role. I felt like I was very much right for it. I never felt out of place or anything. So it was never challenging for me from that perspective I guess. I never felt nervous or that I was going to do a bad job or that I couldn’t handle it or something. I always think like that but I think Jon, again I credit Jon, he made me feel very comfortable and confident that I was this role and that I could do this part and that the movie would be good. I just believed in what we were doing I guess.

Were you ever offered the more typical raunchy teen comedy roles?

No, no. I’m never offered any sort of roles. I need to audition in a typically lengthy process to receive roles. I’ve auditioned for raunchy comedies before, yes, but this is not a raunchy comedy.

That’s why I was wondering about the contrast. So it just happens that this is the one you got first?


It’s probably right that way.

Yeah, and that’s what’s nice about it is that yeah, I could probably do a raunchy comedy but I just don’t think that’s as fulfilling as doing something like this and being honest as an actor. That’s always something that’s hard for me. In particular it’s hard to be honest and it’s hard to open up. So this was something challenging in that respect.

What’s coming up for “Teen Wolf” season three?

I don't know. I just got the first episode. I literally have no idea what the storyline is going to be.

Have you read the first script?

I did. I read it. There’s four months that go by. When we pick up in season three, it’s been a few months since we leave off in season two. That’s probably the only thing I can say. Anything else too that I say in the first episode has no context. I don’t even know where any of it’s going anyway so there’s no reason to talk about it. But I’m excited.

Have you ever heard from the original Stiles?

No, not hear from him. I coincidentally met him one time because when I was doing the movie with Britt actually, this is just a whirlwind of coincidence, okay. We were doing the movie. “Teen Wolf” was airing. Right when we were wrapping the movie, “Teen Wolf” was coming on the air and she was having a “Life Unexpected” reunion party. Jerry Levine used to direct “Life Unexpected” episodes so he was going to be at this reunion party so she called me and she was like, “Dude, the original Stiles is going to be at this barbecue. You have to come meet him.” So I went and I met him but that was the only time. I just thought that was kind of funny.

Had he seen your show? What did he say?

No, not at all. It had only been on the air for like a month or so and it was season one. He had no idea that it was even being made but he was perfectly nice. He was like, “No way, yeah, okay, new Stiles, old Stiles, hey, yeah!”

Do you feel like by season three you’ve come into your own and the whole show has?

Yeah, yeah, I think so. I think Jeff [Davis]’s so great at giving everyone a chance to play something each year, to have an arc if they so please. He’s just so good with writing in that way. He presents to you a very fun arc to play over the course of a season. I’ve loved what I’ve gotten to do over the course of the first two seasons and I’m just excited to see what he writes for me this year.

Did you watch In the Land of Women before you met with Jon?

No, I never saw In the Land of Women actually. I think it was because he’s so cynical about it. Just as a person about anything, if he had done Lawrence of Arabia, if that was his first film he’d be like, “Don’t see it, it’s garbage.” I should check that out sometime because I think I’d get a kick out of it. I can’t say at all but I didn’t think it would have much relevance to what we were going to be doing.

Had you seen the other Kasdan family films?

Yeah, Body Heat, The Big Chill. God, what else has Lawrence done?

Lawrence wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark and Empire Strikes Back.

Oh yeah, well, I know about his writing absolutely and I’m obsessed with Raiders of the Lost Ark and the original Star Wars trilogy too. As a kid those were huge things for me. So that’s why it’s kind of insane that Larry is Jon’s dad. He’s just like around all the time and he’s just the nicest guy. It’s just so weird because it’s like, “You’re kind of genius.”

What’s next for you?

This movie called The Internship that comes out next summer. I have a small part in it but it’s a Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson movie that I think’ll be really funny. It’s got an amazing ensemble cast. That’s it. Then “Teen Wolf” really.

Did you shoot The Internship between season two and three this hiatus?

Mm hmm, I just finished July/August/September.

What character do you get to play in The Internship?

A character Stuart. Vince and Owen lose their jobs because they’re salesmen for this company and they have no idea how to survive in the new age of technology. They’re not savvy with anything and they don’t know what to do really. What they decide to do is they try to get internships at Google because they’d become tech savvy and they’d solve their career issues. Through some loophole they actually get in. Then it’s literally Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson amongst 20-year-old interns. We have an intern week and we get paired off in groups that have to compete against each other throughout the week. The winning group at the end of the week gets jobs at Google. So we’re kind of the outcast group put together. I’m the really cynical one who’s kind of like a dick to everybody and hates everybody, especially Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Then we have other straggling outcasts, interns amongst the group. It’s basically about us having to come together and compete in the intern week and try to get the jobs. It’s really funny. I think it’ll be good.