Patricia Clarkson
Credit: David Livingston/Getty Images

Who are these amnesiac boys, rising up each month from a rusting elevator into the middle of a grassy glade?

What is this massive stone maze surrounding them, and why does it change shape each day? How long will some unseen intelligence keep testing them as they try desperately to escape?

These are the core questions of The Maze Runner, and EW has learned Patricia Clarkson will play the character with the answers.

Clarkson, who was nominated for a supporting actor Oscar in 2003 for Pieces of April, is best known for Shutter Island, Lars and the Real Girl, and The Station Agent.

Fans of James Dashner‘s best-selling 2009 young-adult novel often describe the survival tale as a kind of hybrid of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games and Lost — but it would be a shame to reveal its secrets to those who aren’t yet familiar with it.

If you know the books and are dying to find out exactly which character Clarkson plays, click on over the page two of this story. Otherwise, we’ll keep it spoiler free for the sake of newcomers.

Dylan O’Brien (TV’s Teen Wolf) stars in the film as Thomas, the latest boy to emerge into The Glade with no memory of who he is or how he got there. A group of other boys his age welcome him into their makeshift society, and explain that they each found themselves in a similar situation.

All around their little agrarian kingdom loom massive stone walls that open each morning to reveal an intricate maze, which changes shape at will. What lies at the end of it? No one has found out, though the fastest and most daring of the boys run into it every day hoping to find out. All they know for sure is that someone is watching them — and those who don’t return before sunset never make it back at all.

The Maze Runner is due in theaters Feb. 14, 2014.

It also stars Kaya Scodelario (TV’s Skins, Clash of the Titans), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones), Ki Hong Lee (TV’s The Nine Lives of Chloe King), Aml Ameen (Red Tails, TV’s Harry’s Law), Will Poulter (Son of Rambow) and Blake Cooper (Parental Guidance).

For more on The Maze Runner

• EW debuted an intriguing piece of concept art from the film, showing the maze in all its intimidating glory, have a look here.

• Details on the actors and their characters, as well as first-time feature filmmaker Wes Ball’s animated short RUIN, can be found on this page.

• And once again, if you just have to know more right now about the enigmatic figure played by Clarkson, okay: Here’s what EW can tell you…Spoiler ahead … Don’t say you weren’t warned:Clarkson’s role in The Maze Runner will be Chancellor Ava Paige, the highest ranking member of the organization trying to test children to find the strongest, most intelligent warriors.The world has been decimated twice over — first by a solar flare that roasted the planet, and then by a disease that wiped out much of the population. Faced with this devastation, the governments of the world joined forces to experiment on children 12-to-17 who may have a natural resistance to the disease.Paige heads the organization known in the books as WICKED (World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department). Despite the sinister acronym, it’s not clear that the organization is an evil one. (They might want their P.R. department to try a little rebranding, though.) In the film, they drop the “experiment” and go by WICKD.She has a special interest in O’Brien’s fear-defying character Thomas, but what exactly she and her group hope to gain from the maze trials is something best left for the movie to explain. We may have said too much already …

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The Maze Runner
  • Movie
  • 114 minutes