Which was harder for you: the MMA training or just not shaving that beard?
O'Brien: I know -- that was a full six months of growing that beard. I had just had major surgery on my face, so at first I just couldn't shave for eight weeks, but then it was just an excuse, in a way. I was just letting myself go, basically. I don't know, it was just the furthest thing from me, and also in a way I feel like it was something I was hiding behind. I was just retreating into a corner, in a way. Then, this started to coincide with a time where I had to really start thinking about the movie again and make a decision about whether I'm still committed or not. They were really patient with my recovery, but it was getting down to the wire.
I started really thinking about this character a lot again. In the space that I was in, I just remember looking in the mirror at one point and just seeing him, in a way. Then I realized how appropriate it was for the character, how filtered it was through my experience. I became really passionate about that idea. I sent pictures to the director at one point. I think he thought I was crazy for a second.
"Why is Dylan sending me these pictures?"
O'Brien: He was like, "Oh, man, he's losing it." But once I explained to him how I just connected this to the character like that and just felt like it was so appropriate, he totally got it and then was an advocate for me with the producers and studio and stuff, because I wanted to keep the hair and the beard. This guy, he would be isolated, he'd be hiding. It would also just be the furthest thing from his mind, maintenance of any kind. Things like that, I just felt were so right.