Kaya Scodelario was ‘one of the boys for her new film, The Maze Runner (12A), her first action movie. Here she talks to Susan Griffin about the role.
Kaya Scodelario’s mother recently pleaded with her daughter over her choice of roles. “My Mum asked, ‘Can you stop playing crazy characters? I can’t handle it any more’,” reveals the 22-year-old actress, laughing.
Perhaps understandable, given that her breakthrough role was as the beautiful and complex Effy in Skins, the somewhat edgy E4 series that that depicted teenage sex and drug-taking, and also launched the careers of Nicholas Hoult, Jack O’Connell and Dev Patel.
Post-Skins, she starred in sci-fi drama Moon with Sam Rockwell, and fantasy film Clash Of The Titans, but it was her performance as Cathy in Andrea Arnold’s 2011 reimagining of Wuthering Heights, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, which made her stand out.
“I think, like every actor, you’ve just to pick what you’re interested in,” says Scodelario, a tall, willowy figure in skinny jeans and a black T-shirt, emblazoned with the word Freedom.
“Acting’s such a good job, in that you’re stimulating and pushing yourself constantly. I’d never want to do anything comfortable.
“I wanted to do this because of how physical it is,” she says of her new movie, The Maze Runner. “ I’d never done an action film.”
The film’s based on the first book in a young adult series by James Dashner, published in 2009.
Described as a combination of Lord Of The Flies, The Hunger Games and Lost, it begins with a teenager, Thomas, waking up in a lift and being greeted by a colony of boys who welcome him to the Glade, a pasture surrounded by enormous concrete walls. None of them know how or why they got there, only that each morning, giant doors to the Maze open. At sunset they close again, and every 30 days a newcomer arrives.
But less than a week after Thomas’ arrival, Teresa (Scodelario), the first girl, appears. Thomas feels an unsettling familiarity and believes they might be able to solve the mystery of the Maze.
The film’s producer, Wyck Godfrey, was impressed that Scodelario could be ‘one of the guys’.
“She’s badass, which is what you need to be if you’re going to be thrust into the world of the Glade with all these young men,” he says.
Not that the actress sees it as a big deal.
“When I first arrived, they were all playing ball games in the garden, which I thought was a bit stereotypical, like, ‘C’mon boys!’. But I’m used to having such a big hectic group of friends, and a lot of my friends are male,” she says.
The movie’s directed by Wes Ball (it’s his feature film debut), a man Scodelario describes as ‘brilliant’. “Any day we were feeling tired and exhausted, we’d talk to Wes for five minutes and he’d get you back there.”
And that was most days, as there’s a lot running in the movie.
“I’m the unhealthiest person in the world. I’m not fit at all. My lovely friend George helped me train. I cried a lot and he helped me through it. But I still like a fry-up more than anything else.”
Not that her newly-defined muscles helped her cope with the humidity of Louisiana, where some of the movie was shot.
“It was hot, humid, with lots of bugs, but it was a lot of fun. I’ve never been anywhere like that before, so I loved it, and the history and culture is so interesting down there,” she says. “We went on swamp tours, and ate alligator and Cajun food.”
As much as she enjoyed the experience, she’s now looking to do something back home.
“And I want to do an indie project. I like working with new and young directors. I’ve got a lot of talented friends that are writers, so I want to do projects with them.”