Every year, the Emmy Awards recognizes “excellence in the television industry” and this year is no different. On Thursday, the nominations for the 66th Annual Primetime Emmys were released and granted, there were some heavy television hitters properly recognized. Shows such as Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and the final season of Breaking Bad were all graced with a mass of nominations. However, with every success story comes the failures and many were seemingly forgotten about, or “snubbed”, when it came to being recognized. TV shows such as The Good Wife, Sons of Anarchy, and Hannibal were obvious fan favorites, but the same could not be said when it came to top picks for the big wigs of the television industry. One of the biggest shockers left off the nomination list seems to be young actor Dylan O’Brien, who many know as the face behind the frantic, yet loyal “Stiles” Stilinski on the MTV adaptation of Teen Wolf.
From the outset, many would not believe that a show on a channel that airs such grimaces such as Teen Mom and the oft-complained about Faking It would have a place among the grand actors and actresses that usually take home Emmy gold. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the second half of season three of Teen Wolf.
O’Brien, who has played the comic foil to main actor Tyler Posey’s sometimes-serious Scott McCall, got the chance to shine in a way he had not in years past. In season 3B, “Stiles” — who has not had his actual first name revealed yet — was possessed by a trickster spirit of Japanese lore called a “nogitsune”. Gone was the silly, nervous, and sometimes rambunctious Stiles. In his place was a sneaky, stern, and outright scary side of a character that fans had never seen before. In some ways, however, it was a better side.
Early on, before many actually knew what had happened to Stiles, the character, his family, and friends all believed that he was actually having a health issue that had driven his (unseen) mother insane. The vulnerability that showed through O’Brien during these episodes was nothing short of fantastic. One could not help but to feel the fear and pain etched upon a face that never seemed to have a reason to be sad.
O’Brien, 22, revealed the new challenge of taking the heroic Stiles to a dark place was one he was not sure he could handle, but inevitably, one he enjoyed performing.
“It’s all about learning, growing, and challenging yourself,” he said of the new aspect. “Trying new things and expanding. It’s been great. I really came to like the evil, dark aspects of Stiles.”
For 12 episodes, fans were enthralled and entertained as the nogitsune would eventually separate himself from Stiles’ body and wreak havoc on all of the characters, including Stiles himself. O’Brien would (obviously) play both roles; one, an evil being growing stronger and more threatening by the moment and the other, a sickly human trying to hold onto life and survive as his body grew weaker, and quite possibly, near death. O’Brien handled the challenges brilliantly and not only gave more depth to his character, but added more layers to his acting skills.
Series creator Jeff Davis knew what he was doing by giving this new position to O’Brien, even if the actor himself did not think so.
“It was a huge challenge for me, and I was scared at first,” he said to TVLine. “You have to just go for it, and that’s why I love acting; it’s made me face my fears and try things I’d normally be too uncomfortable to try.”
It is no wonder that he has now gone from sidekick to leading man. He will be starring in his first movie, The Maze Runner, later this year. For this truly talented young man; one who did not originally set out to become an actor (he had originally planned to major in sports broadcasting at Syracuse University), Dylan O’Brien proved that a change of course can lead to greatness. Teen Wolf may be a show about, well, teen wolves (as well as cheetahs, banshees, killer spirits, demons, and the like), but O’Brien is well on his way to the big leagues. An Emmy nomination definitely would have added a great notch to his work.
Opinion by Jonathan Brown