October 23, 2015
Williamstown, N.J.-native Dexter Darden moved to Los Angeles in 2012 to film musical comedy "Joyful Noise" alongside Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, hitting the Hollywood scene at 21. Since then, he's landed an ongoing role as the boisterous Frypan in the "Maze Runner" sci-fi trilogy, a blockbuster film series that, thematically at least, is equal parts "The Hunger Games" and "Lord of the Flies."
Darden, who appeared in the series' second installment, "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" in September, will begin filming the third "Maze Runner" in February. Later this year, he'll also be dropping his first single from a new music project. We caught up with Darden to gab about life in L.A., what Dolly's really like and what role he's dying to play.
If you had to describe yourself as another popular actor, who would that be?
It’s hard to describe yourself as another actor because you don’t ever want to say you’re as talented as 'this guy,' or you hope to be as talented … But I would love to fall in the career footsteps of a Will Smith or a Denzel Washington, or a Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio. These guys who have been doing it for a long time and are given tons of respect by the acting community and fans.
What is one character already played in a film you wish you could go back in time and play yourself?
Spider-Man. I’d really love to be Spider-Man. But it’s been done so many times and is being done again, but definitely Spidey. Also, I love Chris Tucker in 'Rush Hour.' That’s my favorite movie. When I was a kid I was always making home movies and playing roles in my shower. I’d say Chris Tucker in that movie, because it’s the perfect combination of action and comedy, and he did such a great job in that film.
Did you have a chance to get to know Dolly Parton through "Joyful Noise"?
We worked together for three months. So, every day I got to hang with her and Queen [Latifah], and she was really nice and cool. She would cook for us sometimes -- make us coffee and chicken and dumplings. She was like everybody’s grandmom. Straight up.
Do you think if you were set in the dystopian kind of world that 'Maze Runner' sets its characters in, you would be able to survive?
You know, probably not. Not by myself. The things our characters go through are pretty difficult, you know? They’re pretty life-threatening things. It’s hard to say ‘Yeah I’d be able to survive.’ I’d hope I would, but I don’t think so. Not by myself -- that’s for sure.
Is there anything that really surprised you about moving to L.A.?
I miss the East Coast. I miss it a lot. L.A. is really cool and it’s where I need to be for work and the weather is great, but something about that East Coast vibe and personality, how fun-loving they are, and open and honest they are. L.A. is one of those cities where you never know if someone is telling you the truth or if it’s all smoke and mirrors. So, from the East Coast, being from Philadelphia, I see that and I miss that.... Philadelphia helped me get to a place of being humble at all times.