Patricia Clarkson won me over the moment she looked into John Coffey's eyes and told him, "I dreamed you were wandering in the dark. And so was I. And we found each other. We found each other in the dark." And then, more than a decade after The Green Mile hit theaters, she won me over again in Easy A when - playing the role of the mother to Emma Stone's Olive - she admitted quite candidly to her daughter that she had a horrible reputation when she was younger and that she slept with a whole bunch of people. "Mostly guys." Clarkson is one of those actors who owns a role, and she can be incredibly charming in the process. That may or may not come in handy for her part in The Maze Runner.
The feature adaptation of James Dashner's novel has already begun production, and those keeping track of Wes Ball's Twitter might catch a glimpse of the director and cast enjoying "Glade Life" for the film…
Suffice to say, things are rolling right along for the movie, which makes news of Clarkson's casting - which was shared today at EW - seem a bit late in the game. But if you've read the book, that's not that surprising. Dashner's novel begins with a teen named Thomas waking up in a dark elevator with no memory of who he is or how he got there. The only thing he knows is his name. He arrives in a walled place called the Glade, which is inhabited entirely by other teen boys like him. Each arrived separately at some point in the past and none of them knows why they're there. Each morning, the stone walls of the Glade open to a giant maze. While some of the guys spend their days inside the Glade where it's relatively safe, others, called runners, run out into the dangerous maze each day in the hopes of finding a way out or some clue as to why they're there and also hoping to make it back into the Glade before the doors shut, because no one survives the Maze at night. And that's really just the beginning of the story. Dylan O'Brien plays Thomas in the film, which also stars Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, Chris Sheffield, Aml Ameen and Blake Cooper.
If you were keeping track of that vague synopsis, you'll notice that there's no mention of any adult characters, or any females for that matter. There is a girl, in fact - Kaya Scodelario will play her in the movie - and that's part of the mystery for Thomas, but it's mostly irrelevant here. The point is, for most of the story, there are no adults and these kids don't know why they're stuck in this place. Where there are adults there are reveals to what the Glade and the Maze are all about, so to delve into the specifics on Clarkson's casting, we have to talk in more detail about the later part of the book. If you haven't read it and would like to remain unspoiled, please accept this vague description: She plays a woman in the movie. As for how big a role it is, it's hard to say. The character doesn't arrive until the third act of the book.
And this is where the spoiler warning begins, so if you don't want specifics on the end of the book, go ahead and skip the rest of the text and watch Clarkson do her adorable dance in the video below.
Ok, you've been warned. As you may have guessed, given the limited number of female roles in this film, and Clarkson's late casting, EW says she'll play Chancellor Ava Paige, the highest ranking member of W.I.C.K.D., the organization that's testing kids to find the strongest, most intelligent warriors. You may have noted the missing E in "W.I.C.K.E.D.," which is how the organization is known in the book. EW says the movie is dropping the "experiment" from "World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department."
That noted change makes me wonder what else might be changing about the organization and the conclusion of the story. And while we might assume that we'll only see Clarkson near the end of the movie, that might not be the case. Consider another young adult novel turned movie about a bunch of sequestered kids. The Hunger Games told the story from Katniss' perspective, but the movie wasn't limited to a first person narrative and was able to branch out and show us what was going on in the control room, with President Snow's business and other moments Katniss wouldn't have been able to witness herself. The Maze Runner could very well tease the great and powerful Ava Paige behind the curtain before Thomas and the other survivors meet her. It all depends on how they're telling the story in the movie.
Regardless of how much we see of her, Clarkson's a great addition to any cast. From what I remember of Ava Paige in the book, she's all business, so I'll be interested to see how Clarkson handles the role. We'll find out when The Maze Runner arrives in theaters February 14.