Variety and the Golden Globe Awards Breakthrough Artists Party Presented by Adobe was held on Jan 19 in Park City at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. At the event, Variety presented their Breakthrough Awards, which highlight the next generation of exceptional talents in front of and behind the camera. Dylan O’Brien was among this year’s recipients of Breakthrough Artist for his upcoming independent film “Ponyboi.” The category also included Normani who stars in “Freaky Tales,” Maddie Ziegler who stars in “My Old Ass” and Justice Smith who stars in “I Saw the TV Glow,” and “The American Society of Magical Negroes”. The award was presented to him by his friends and co stars Victoria Pedretti and River Gallo who is also the creator of “Ponyboi”.
O’Brien, who got his big break starring alongside Tyler Posey in MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” has had quite an impressive career on film since the show ended in 2017 so far. While starring in “The Maze Runner” series, O’Brien also starred alongside Michael Keaton in “American Assasin” (2017) and Mark Wahlberg in “Deepwater Horizon” (2016).
Apart from a few appearances on TV, as well as his starring role in Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well: The Short Film” alongside Sadie Sink, O’Brien’s focus has mainly been film. Over the past few years, O’Brien has decided to turn his head to more serious roles. He has appeared in a number of independent films with unique plots, playing a variety of lovable, intense, and unusual characters such as “Love and Monsters,” “Not Okay,” “Flashback,” “The Outfit,” and most recently, “Maximum Truth” (2023).
This was O’Brien’s second time at the Sundance Film Festival, his first being back in 2012 when he was there for the premiere of one of his first feature films, “The First Time.” In 2014, O’Brien won the Young Hollywood Award for Breakthrough Actor, and now a decade later comes his win at the Variety and Golden Globes Breakthrough Awards 2024.
O’Brien is very careful about the projects he chooses; each project he picks has been completely different from the next. We have seen him evolve from the hero stereotype to not knowing what kind of category his character will fall into next or even if he will last the entire movie. In an interview with Collider, O’Brien spoke about his process of choosing the right role and why it was important to him that he not do the same thing twice.
“I don’t wanna be just doing the same thing, over and over again, because that’s not exciting or really fruitful for me, so I am drawn to things that I haven’t like done yet or things that would be a challenge. When you read a script or a piece of material, you respond to it or you don’t, or you get it or you don’t. I always wanna be doing different things, each time out. I’m fortunate enough to have any career at all, and I’m very aware of that and appreciative of that. I wanna do things that also really just inspire me and challenge me, every time out, and allow me to evolve too. I don’t just do this to pass time or to work. I really do love doing it and wanna be good at it and wanna challenge myself, just like anything else.”
In his upcoming film “Ponyboi”, which premiered at Sundance, we see O’Brien like never before, as he stars alongside Victoria Pedretti once again and the film’s writer and director River Gallo in a story that unfolds over the course of Valentine’s Day in New Jersey, as a young intersex sex worker must run from the mob after a drug deal goes sideways, forcing him to confront his past. He also has the film Caddo Lake coming up, a release date has yet to be set for either.
Watch Dylan O’Brien’s acceptance speech below: