Meet Dane DeHaan, The Next James Dean — Yes, Really

dane1Photo: Theo Kingma/Rex USA.
It's unclear what Dane DeHaan talked to Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper about when they shot the emo crime saga The Place Beyond the Pines early last year, but we’d like to imagine one of their initial conversations went something like this:

DeHaan: "Hey guys. What’s it like being the two of the biggest movie stars in the world?"

Gosling and Cooper: "It’s um, a lot of fun."

DeHaan: "Sweet."

Now, a year later, the 27-year-old Brooklynite is about to find out if breaking into the Big Boys Club lives up to the hype. After cutting his teeth in New York City’s grueling theatre circuit, DeHaan used a string of scene-stealing performances in films like Chronicle, Lawless, Kill Your Darlings, and the aforementioned Pines, to book the ultra-coveted role of Peter Parker’s friend-turned-nemesis Harry Osborn in the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2. When we sat down with the DeHaan to discuss his role in the new concert/horror movie hybrid Metallica: Through The Never, the Leonardo DiCaprio lookalike could barely contain his excitement about Spidey, and assured us that he’s ready for the ubiquity that will come along with it. But, it’s when we mentioned his just-announced role as James Dean in the forthcoming film Life, that the actor's eyes really lit up. Here, Dehaan chatted with R29 on playing his favorite actor ever, working with Metallica, and the one movie that made him cry this year.

What was your relationship with Metallica’s music before you signed on to do the film? Were you a fan?

"Yeah, I mean it's a funny relationship. My parents wouldn't let me own Metallica albums when I was a kid, but the band was still obviously a big presence in the world at the time. I think Master of Puppets was kind of huge when I was growing up; it was all over MTV. But, I wasn't allowed to pop them in my Discman and listen to them. I started listening to them a lot more about a year before we filmed Place Beyond The Pines, because the director gave me their music. But, it really wasn't until I took on this job, which seemed like a really amazing, unique, one-of-a-kind opportunity, that I got to see them live and I got to see their fans. And, the show they put on — that experience really made me a huge fan."

James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich are notorious for having a tumultuous relationship with one another. Did you see that side of them during filming?

"They've been around for a really long time. They've been through a lot, in a lot of different stages in their lives, but I feel like they're more mature now. They realize how lucky they are to have done everything they've done, and they all get along. It's not really them butting heads anymore; it's them being appreciative of the things they've created together and enjoying that. They don't really live the stereotypical rockstar lifestyle anymore. They're functional family men who seem to really like each other."


You touched on their longevity of artists. How do you hope to maintain longevity as an actor?

"That's the goal — to work forever. You know, I really love doing this and I've obviously been given a lot of great opportunities early on in my career. Hopefully the opportunities will continue to happen and grow."

Lars called you, "The biggest movie star — five years from now." Does that freak you out?

"I mean, it's very nice of him. I don't really think about five years from now. It's hard for me to even know what I'm supposed to do after this. My life has become very overwhelming."

Very quickly, too.

"It was kind of steady in terms of film. Over the past three years, there was definitely a point where I had made a bunch of films, but none of them had come out yet. That was kind of a weird time where I knew things were about to happen. Obviously, a lot of those films have come out now and my life has changed a bit because of that, especially in terms of my personal life and the demands that my career has on my life. It's pretty nonstop. But, after next year this is going to keep getting crazier and crazier."

Are you worried about your losing anonymity? Losing the ability to walk down Bedford, let's say?

"I'm not really worried about walking down Bedford in Brooklyn. I feel like Brooklyn is a very safe place. People are already very respectful of me in that community. But, I think if it was something that terrified me, I wouldn't be doing this. I consider myself really lucky to be working at the height of my profession and I've been given really amazing opportunities and really challenging roles and really different projects to work on. If that's what I was worried about, it would be really easy not to do these movies and just to stick with ones with a smaller audience. But, ultimately, for me it's just about acting. I think the fans are what keep my job interesting and growing."


So, you're ready for the big commercial push that's going to come with Spiderman?

"Yeah. I mean, I've spent a lot of time with a lot of people that are involved with really big franchises and they're very capable of living, not a normal life, but a fulfilling life. There are precautions that you have to take, but you're also one of the luckiest people in the world. So, if that's what comes along with it, then so be it."

Do you ever miss your formative years in the New York theater scene?

"Yeah, absolutely. I really, really loved doing theater in New York, and I want to return when I find the right thing to do. It's such a wonderful thing — the Off Broadway, downtown theater community in New York — I had some of my best experiences down there. Some of the actors I worked with are still some of my favorite actors. Everyone's definitely doing that for all the right reasons."

Hollywood must be such a weird place to exist in. Have you found your place there?

"Well I moved out of L.A. — I live in Williamsburg now. I was in L.A. for two and a half years. I moved to L.A. for a number of reasons, but professionally I moved there to try to break into films and try to earn my place."

So, once that happened you were like, "I'm going to go back to where I'm happy"?

"Yeah. It was always the plan. I feel like a lot of people go to L.A. in the hopes of moving back to New York, and I was just really lucky that it worked out."


L.A.'s just something you have to do.

"It was definitely something I had to do to pursue what I wanted to pursue. And, then once I found out that Spiderman was shooting in New York for six months, I was like, 'Cool! I'm back!'"

We haven't seen much of Harry Osborn in the trailers for Spider-Man 2, but we’ve seen clips of Jamie Foxx and it just looks completely out-of-this-world. What have you seen?

"I haven't seen much. I don't really watch playback or anything. So, what I've seen is what they showed at Comic Con."

Did you shoot scenes with Jamie as Electro?

"Yeah, I have scenes with Jamie, and he is going to be really great in it. We had a really great time working together."

We heard you were just cast as James Dean. Is that intimidating?

"Yeah. He's my favorite actor."

That must be a complete mind warp to be playing your favorite actor.

"Yeah, it's really crazy and I have a lot of respect for him, so I will treat it with that much respect. I'm always looking for projects that scare me, that seem kind of impossible, and that will stretch me as an actor. That script is so good, and Anton [Corbijn] is an awesome director, so it's a really intimidating job, but one I'm excited to have."

Do you plan on studying his films on a deeper level now?

"Well, I think one of the things that's great about the film is that it's not about the icon James Dean, who you see in the films. This is a James Dean that — I mean, it's right before East of Eden came out — and he doesn't really know what's going to happen. I think what's really beautiful about the movie is that it gives me the opportunity to find out who James Dean the person was, not James Dean the icon. When you really start reading about him, he wasn't that brooding, uber-serious kind of guy that he was in his films. He was actually a really fun-loving, free-spirited kind of guy. I think the script does a really good job of showing how a normal person can be made into an icon."


It looks like you and Daniel Radcliffe really hit it off on the set of Kill Your Darlings. How much does an off-screen relationship with an actor translate on screen? Are you able to separate that?

"Well, it's so important. I always try to make my off-screen relationships somehow mimic my on-screen relationships. For Kill Your Darlings we had this very loving, romantic, inspirational relationship, so it was really helpful to get really close to him and to fall in love with him as a person and all of that stuff. I think it ultimately fueled our chemistry."

You and Michael B. Jordan both had massive years, and you both started your film careers together with Chronicle. Have you been holding each other's hands through all of this?

"Yeah, I am in contact with him. I had this really crazy experience when I went and saw Fruitvale Station. I don't ever cry in movies."

Why is that? Are you not an emotional person?

"Well, no. I am an emotional person, but I think that even if a movie is really depressing, but it's really good, I just get excited about the fact that it's amazing work and an amazing film. Those aspects of it excite me more than grabbing me emotionally, usually. But, after watching that film I literally had to run out of the theater and I went in my car and I bawled for like an hour."

Did you text him afterwards?

"Yeah, and I called him. I think it was the combination of it being a really devastating story, but also he was doing such amazing work. Also, he is my friend, and I was watching him die for an hour. It was just pride, but also completely loss swirling inside of me. So, I definitely gave him a call after that, and we've seen each other since."

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