Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays a wise guide to a newcomer in The Maze Runner — not to be confused with the wise guide he played on Game of Thrones. “I like being the wise guide!” the actor laughed over a bite of sushi. “Although Newt is a little more normal.” His Newt, the lone Brit among a group of boys stuck in a glade surrounded by a mysterious maze, used to be a maze runner himself until his attempted suicide left him with a limp. To help get into character, Brodie-Sangster and his fellow Gladers camped out on location at their own peril. He chatted with Vulture about snake sightings, cooking for his cast, and how he’d like to be eaten himself.
Where you were shooting in Louisiana, there were a lot of snakes. Did you have any close encounters? I heard at least one of you got bit.
By a baby rattlesnake. Which apparently is very dangerous, because they don’t know how much venom to release, so they tend to release everything. But apparently it was a dry bite — no venom. He did get rushed to the hospital, just in case, though. We had snake wranglers on set every day, and at the beginning, when we first started using that location, they were catching about ten or 12 snakes a day, and that’s including all the snakes, not just deadly ones. I think we had four — or five? — venomous snakes. A water moccasin. A rattlesnake. I can’t remember the rest. The snake guys, they just know where to look. It’s like they can sense it. It’s their passion — it’s what they love. They’ll just know exactly where it is, before you’ve even seen it. But yeah, there were a couple times where we’d see something moving in the grass. It just became part of the location, where we were. And there were poisonous spiders as well. Black widows, brown recluses. Nasty, horrible things.
So when you guys camped out for the night, you were aware of this?
Yeah, very. They provided us with two Marines. I don’t know what Marines would do against a black widow, [laughs] but just in case, they provided us with two Marines to help with survival training, and they also came camping with us.
You’ve also spent a lot of time in the wilderness for Game of Thrones. Maybe you don’t know as much as the snake wranglers or the Marines, but were you the one who knew how to handle himself better, among your fellow actors? Were you that guy?
They say that I was that guy, but I don’t remember being that guy! [Laughs.] I like the outdoors. They gave me a machete, and I was learning how to use it, chopping down trees. I’ve always been good with my hands. I like building and making things. And I just like the idea of being outside. I love the fact that we were surrounded by things that could kill you. That all helps who my character is. It felt like we were really in the place we were supposed to be in. Most of the stuff I do is location stuff. It’s normally cold, wet, and muddy, locations in England. I much prefer that to working in some studio somewhere, even if you’re a lot warmer and spoiled with having craft services. When you see sweat on us in the film, that’s real sweat.
We all took turns cooking. I did a chicken. I did a roast chicken with garlic, rosemary, [and] bacon on top. Kind of standard, but we tried to do the food that would be home food, not restaurant food. The thing you’d miss is your mom’s home cooking. Kaya [Scoledario] would do Brazilian dishes. Dexter [Darden] would do his mom’s chicken and rice. So everyone would bring their dish, and we’d all meet in a room and share. It was great.
There are so many British actors in the cast, and yet you were the only one who got to keep his accent.
I know! I don’t know why that is. I think in the book it hints that Newt is British. I suppose they wanted to kind of mix it up a bit, and show that these people come from all over, or at least, one of us does. But being an actor, an American accent is the main accent you have to do. [Starts speaking in American English] You have to be able to do a standard, generic accent of some type, and it helps a lot. [Shifts back to British English] But also, we grow up watching an awful lot of American films and TV, so most people in England can do an American accent. It may not be amazing, but you can get there.
For The Maze Runner as well as Game of Thrones, did you read the book series that are the basis of these projects?
My girlfriend has read all the Game of Thrones books — twice. She’s a big fan, so I always go to her. I’m not a big reader. The trouble is, being an actor, you’re always being sent scripts, so you’ve always got something to read. You’ve always got about three scripts to read, that you have to read, all the time. So finding a book or getting into a book series is hard, especially for me. I struggle with reading a bit. I’m slightly dyslexic, so reading takes me quite a while, and in general, I’m not a big book reader at all. And something like Game of Thrones seems very daunting to me! [Laughs.] So no, I haven’t read Game of Thrones, and I don’t have any intention of reading it.
That’s okay — the Song of Ice and Fire books are about a thousand pages each, I understand. But did your girlfriend fill you in on the differences between Show Jojen and Book Jojen? In terms of his fate?
You mean in terms of how he died?
Not just that, but what they might have done with him after that. There are some who believe that they ate him.
Not exactly. But maybe Jojen, or his blood, become this “weirwood paste” that Bran eats to awaken his powers. Even though the weirwood tree’s sap is red, Bran thinks it looks like blood. And because Jojen died on the show, while his fate in the books was a little more mysterious, some people think this Jojen paste theory was validated.
Ah! I’d be down for that! Eat me! Go ahead — I’d love for them to eat me. [Laughs.] I’m definitely down for that. I mean, I’ve already been stabbed, had my throat slashed, and been fire-balled, so what harm is there in eating me? And then I could come back. Although, you know, I’d really love to come back as a ghost. Wouldn’t that be fun? Be a ghost for a day. Haunt them all.
Or you could come back in a flashback, if they’re not opposed to those next season.
Or all three — they could eat me, I could be a ghost, and I could be a flashback. Done!
One last thing. When I was talking to Harry Potter producer David Heyman about the spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, your name came up. They’ve got a character they need to cast — Newt Scamander.
Newt, it’s kind of a weird name, though, isn’t it? [Laughs.] But I could play a Newt again. I’ve played characters named Thomas twice, so why not?