Moviegoers are starting to pick up on what Hollywood figured out long before reviews for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”: Dane DeHaan is going to be a movie star. Remember when theater-trained actress Jessica Chastain was first being cast in movie after movie? That’s what’s been happening to DeHaan, who is 28. In the past year he not only took on Harry Osborn in Marc Webb’s big-studio sequel but eclipsed Daniel Radcliffe in “Kill Your Darlings,” starred in heavy metal 3D flick “Metallica Through the Never” and played Ryan Gosling’s son in Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines.”
He’s done a lot for someone so young. DeHaan broke out in 2008 with the HBO series “In Treatment,” as Jesse, one of therapist Gabriel Byrne’s patients. He made his Broadway debut that same year with David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” In 2010, DeHaan won an Obie for his performance Off-Broadway in “The Aliens.” His first film was John Sayles’ “Amigo” in 2011.
Then came roles in 2012 indie sci-fi sleeper “Chronicle,” John Hillcoat’s period drama “Lawless,” which went to Cannes, and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” And then came the juiciest film role so far as dangerous seducer Lucien Carr in John Krokidas’ Sundance hit “Kill Your Darlings.” Set in 1944, this murder mystery involves the young poet Allen Ginsberg (Radcliffe), his first crush, charismatic fellow Columbia student Carr, and novelists Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster). DeHaan earned raves.
That film was one of three DeHaan films that debuted in Toronto, along with Atom Egoyan’s “Devil’s Knot,” a dramatization of The Memphis Three co-starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, and Nimrod Antal’s 3-D IMAX marvel “Metallica Through the Never,” which Picturehouse released soon after. DeHaan stars in a virtually silent role; as the band rocks out on an elaborate giant stage throughout the movie, their roadie (DeHaan) leaves the arena to retrieve a missing bag. What he encounters is an otherworldly assault that he must survive in order to get back to his band.
“Metallica is all about the fans,” says Picturehouse chief Bob Berney. “Dane reps the fan. He reminds me of the 18-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s played diverse roles, he can go younger or older. He’s got that early De Niro intensity, he’s a real studied actor.”
Next up: DeHaan is set to play James Dean in Anton Corbijn’s “Life,” the true story of a 1955 road trip with Dean and Life magazine photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson). The film is shooting this year for producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman (“The King’s Speech,” “Shame”).
Anne Thompson: You’ve been going strong. You must be exhausted!
Dane DeHaan: I am really tired. I’ve been going non-stop for like 3 1/2 years… I started [a film] right after I finished “Spider-Man”…I credit “In Treatment” with my introduction to the film world. That was the first time I did something people in some way watched and responded to. Mia Wasikowska was in Season One, I was in Season Three. I filmed “Lawless” before I filmed “Chronicle” 24 hours later. I filmed “Place Beyond the Pines” two weeks after “Chronicle” wrapped. A month after “Pines,” I shot “Kill Your Darlings.”
Part of the problem with shooting so many films is that you have to keep promoting them.
The publicity on “Chronicle” was non-existent, but for “Place Beyond the Pines” we did a three-day press junket, and for “Lawless” the same thing. For “Spider-Man” we’re doing a month-long worldwide extravaganza; it will be cool to see the world– I will make the most of my time.
When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I’ve always wanted to be an actor. There was no aha moment. It was just always how I liked to spend my time. I always wanted to learn how to act before I tried to do it professionally but in my childhood I did high school plays. When I went to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts I went specifically for acting, it was the only state-run conservatory in the state. I was in a class of 20 actors. All we did was arts-related classes all day long.
What was it like to work with Cianfrance?
I had never worked with anybody that worked like him. It’s a unique way of working, ultimately not only collaborative but creative. He throws the script out the window in a way, and creates a realistic environment which forces actors to really exist. It’s always how I look at acting. You’re not only thrown into the environment that is what makes it so copacetic to that kind of work. But it’s usually a lot more work to get to that point. It’s always fun. I do love it.
How was it to work with Shia LaBeouf on “Lawless”?
Shia and I played best friends in the movie. So it becomes my job to create that relationship with people. I like my offscreen relationships to mimic my onscreen relationships, which makes my onscreen job easier. I’m not good at faking things. If I can make something a reality I can do that, that’s how I look at what I do.
And how was the transition to shooting a big-budget Hollywood tentpole like “Spider-Man”?
I really didn’t know what to expect going in. It’s certainly the biggest project in terms of money spent on it I’ve ever done. You’re given an extremely lot of time, to work on things. For a person who likes to work on things a lot– the work is why I like acting– being given four months of prep, six months to shoot the movie, was something I found luxurious. And great for a part that was complex and challenging. I walked away fulfilled.
You’re virtually silent in the Metallica movie.
I play a roadie with the band while simultaneously a concert is going on. I’m sent on errand to get a bag for the band. I pretty much have to go through hell and back and get the bag before the concert. You watch my journey at a one of a kind mall on location. My footage was shot in 11 days with only two 3-D cameras. The concert had 10 3-D cameras, one time they actually had 20, like they didn’t hold back. It’s the full on Metallica experience. People will respond to it!