LOS ANGELES — Dylan O’Brien says that sticking with his lead role in the action movie “American Assassin” helped him recover from a traumatic accident during filming of a “Maze Runner” sequel in March 2016.

O’Brien told The Associated Press on Monday that being back on a set was a necessary step in his recovery. He said at times after the accident he felt like he wasn’t going to be able to return to filming, but he didn’t want to let acting go.

“It really helped a lot, actually. It sort of became in a way that step that I needed in recovery to know I could do it again, I could still be on a set and things could be done in the right way, too, and things could be done safely in the way that they’re supposed to be done,” O’Brien said.

“American Assassin” involved numerous stunts and fight scenes.

“I didn’t want to let go. It would have been hard to say you know, ‘Ah, forget it. I’m not going to be able to make it.’ Which I did genuinely feel for the longest time. But I just — I decided that it was probably going to be best for me mentally actually to do it.”

He declined to discuss his injuries sustained or what he remembered about the accident while filming a sequence involving two vehicles in British Columbia, Canada. But he said the shock of the accident helped him to understand his character in “American Assassin,” who becomes a CIA counter-terrorism operative after his fiancee is killed by terrorists.

“Going through any sort of trauma like that, funny enough, I felt like I was more informed about the aftermath of an incident like the one my character goes through than I ever could’ve been,” O’Brien, 25, said. “So I kind of then ended up having a lot of pride in sort of diving into that, portraying that.”

Co-star Sanaa Lathan says she could see how O’Brien used his own experience in his performance.

“He’s been through a lot,” she said. “I was really impressed with how he brought that depth and that pain to this character. I really believed it. … I haven’t talked to him about this, but it probably was a cathartic form of therapy too, to just get it out.”

The “Teen Wolf” star has remained largely out of view and hasn’t publicly discussed the accident or extent of his injuries, which were serious enough to halt production on the film, subtitled “The Death Cure,” for nearly a year.

A report prepared by the occupational safety agency WorkSafe BC said O’Brien’s accident happened after a change was made to an action sequence involving two vehicles that were not connected. It stated that drivers would have to keep the two vehicles close enough together to make the stunt work, and that O’Brien was harnessed to one vehicle while physically riding on the back of another. Several details about the accident were redacted, and the report did not detail O’Brien’s injuries.

Worksafe BC stated that a meeting was not held after filming plans were changed. The agency later determined that the production had complied with its recommendations, which included that appropriate rehearsals should be performed and certain high-risk sequences should be done by qualified stunt people.

Last week, O’Brien made his eighth and final appearance with his “Teen Wolf” co-stars at San Diego’s massive Comic-Con.

“It’s always kind of weird, man – it’s great though. It’s a great weird. Comic-Con has always cracked me up,” O’Brien said.

“American Assassin” hits theatres in September.


AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report.