Actor Attends First Premiere in Years, Praises Co-Star River Gallo
Dylan O’Brien made his long-awaited return to the public eye over the weekend, walking his first red carpet in two years at the Sundance Film Festival 2024 for the premiere of his new film “Ponyboi.”
The actor took an extended break from Hollywood after being seriously injured on the set of “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” in 2016. After a difficult recovery period, O’Brien is now ready to jump back into acting full force with his praised performance in “Ponyboi,” an independent film directed by River Gallo.
“It feels so good to be back,” O’Brien told reporters on the Sundance red carpet. “I wasn’t sure if my passion would still be there after taking time away, but this project and River really reignited that for me.”
Transformation for Complex Role
In “Ponyboi,” O’Brien plays a young intersex runaway who turns to sex work to survive. The complex role required the actor to lose weight, shave his head, and take on an androgynous look.
“I showed up to set looking like Gollum,” O’Brien joked. “But transformations like this are so fulfilling for an actor. Ponyboi lives such a specific experience, I wanted every physical aspect to reflect the nuance of their reality.”
|Kevin Matthew McDonald
The actor went on to praise his co-star and director River Gallo, who is a trans nonbinary intersex latinx writer and filmmaker. Gallo wrote “Ponyboi” based partly on their own life experience with sex work and homelessness.
“River is such an inspiration, both in how They* tell this story and how They live Their life authentically,” said O’Brien. “This movie could not exist without Their unique voice and vision. I’m so honored I get to help bring Ponyboi’s truth to the screen.”
*They/Them pronouns for River Gallo
Film Praised as “Triumph”
Early reviews out of Sundance have been glowing for both “Ponyboi” as a film and for O’Brien’s performance.
“Ponyboi’s past houselessness and survival sex work has chipped away at their selfhood. Detached from family and struggling with their intersex gender identity, they attempt to “pass” as cis male.”
What’s Next for O’Brien
For Dylan O’Brien, all signs point to a welcomed Hollywood comeback thanks to his standout work in “Ponyboi.” The young star had previously said the crash while filming “Maze Runner” made him question if he still wanted to act.
But from all accounts out of Sundance 2024, O’Brien is ready to pick up right where he left off as an up and coming leading man after critical acclaim in indie films like “The First Time” and blockbuster franchises like “Teen Wolf” and “Maze Runner.”
The actor has not announced any future projects yet, but there is sure to be widespread interest from major directors and production companies after the rave reviews for “Ponyboi.” For right now, O’Brien is just happy to celebrate the film’s Sundance premiere and honor River Gallo’s deeply personal story.
With O’Brien’s triumphant return, the future looks bright for the Hollywood star and now also filmmaker River Gallo after the home run success of Their directorial debut “Ponyboi” which will undoubtedly further the conversation around intersex and non-binary issues. Look for distribution and release dates for the film later this year.
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