New thriller American Assassin sees CIA operative Mitch Rapp go on a globe-spanning race against time to stop a mysterious operative from committing a series of horrific acts with an aim to starting war in the Middle East. The film boasts an all-star cast, including its two diametrically-opposed leads, Dylan O’Brien and Taylor Kitsch.
Set The Tape thought we would profile two actors and the latest step on a journey that has seen them embraced by Hollywood…
American Assassin’s protagonist ass-kicker, Dylan O’Brien, is perhaps most famous for his series regular role on MTV’s runaway hit Teen Wolf, a loose adaptation of the 1985 movie of the same name, starring Michael J Fox. The show, which largely eschews the fantasy-comedy of the film in favour of a Buffy-style darker horror tone, has O’Brien taking centre stage as Stiles Stilinski, the snarky, Adderall-dependent best friend to Tyler Posey’s Scott McCall, the ostensible adolescent lycanthrope of the show’s title.
O’Brien quickly became a fan favourite on the show. His character won legions of fans over due to his humour, his intelligence, and his likability, leading to a greater prominence as the show progressed. Teen Wolf is set to conclude in 2017, and even though he is no longer a series regular in the final season, he remains a prominent and recurring presence.
In the wake of this boost to his profile, O’Brien continued with guest spots in TV, notably a flashback character for Zooey Deschanel’s eponymous New Girl, as the boy who took her virginity as a teenager. However, O’Brien’s largest and most global success outside of Teen Wolf has been in his movie roles.
Following roles in indie flicks such as The First Time and secondary characters in comedy vehicles (see 2013’s lamentable love letter to Google, The Internship), O’Brien took his first leading role with The Maze Runner, the first in a series of adaptations of James Dashner’s YA book series. O’Brien plays Thomas, who awakens in a post-apocalyptic world called The Glade where a rudimentary society of teenagers tries to escape and survive.
The film proved to be a huge success, with the first garnering ten times its budget in the box office. The sequel, The Scorch Trials, was also a success; and the third and final film, The Death Cure, is set to come out in 2018, securing O’Brien’s place as an up-and-coming movie star in the making.
American Assassin‘s villain is played by Taylor Kitsch, who has had a chartered path through Hollywood stardom. He initially emerged into public prominence when cast as Tim Riggins, the troubled, loveable antihero in Peter Berg’s beloved football drama Friday Night Lights. Thanks to his portrayal of Riggins – a beer-swilling, gravelly-voiced, laconic teenager who for all his world-weariness and seeming confidence was adrift in the world and prone to self-destructive tendencies – Kitsch secured himself a foot in the door for wider success.
However, in the world of films, Kitsch’s path has been less than smooth to say the least. Bit-parts in schlocky horror (Snakes On A Plane) and YA comedy (John Tucker Must Die) aside, Kitsch gained his first leading man role in 2012 with John Carter. It was an ill-considered adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ‘A Princess of Mars’ that flopped spectacularly at the box office. Kitsch followed this up by reuniting with Peter Berg in the same year for Battleship, a Naval sci-fi blockbuster that earned more notoriety for its basis on a board game, than for anything really positive.
Kitsch also attempted to break more into television, with an impressive turn in HBO’s HIV biopic The Normal Heart, and a valiant attempt at chiselled charisma in True Detective‘s much-maligned second season. In 2018, he has a leading role in miniseries Waco coming up, a show about the Waco siege of 1993 in which Kitsch plays Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh opposite Michael Shannon and Melissa Benoist, and also acts as executive producer.
In 2017, he looks set to restore some more credit to his film repertoire with his terrorist turn in American Assassin, as well as firefighter drama Only the Brave alongside Josh Brolin and Miles Teller, based on a true and tragic story, which looks set to become a late-year success.
What are your favourite performances from O’Brien & Kitsch? What did you think of American Assassin? Let us know in comments below or on social media.