For a 25-year-old actor with only three years in the movie business, Dane DeHaan has had a remarkable run. Since first appearing on screen opposite Oscar-winner Chris Cooper in John Sayles' Philippine-American war epic "Amigo" in 2010, DeHaan led the critically acclaimed sci-fi sleeper hit "Chronicle"; worked with Derek Cianfrance on his anticipated follow-up to "Blue Valentine," "The Place Beyond the Pines" (it premieres next month in Toronto); acted opposite Reese Witherspoon in Atom Egoyan's next, "Devil's Knot"; and played Lucien Carr, a key member of the Beat Generation, in "Kill Your Darlings," alongside a cast that includes Daniel Radcliffe and Elizabeth Olsen. This is all in addition to his TV work which has seen him make lasting impressions on two HBO shows: "In Treatment" and "True Blood."
In his latest to hit theaters, "Lawless" (it opens this Wednesday in select theaters via The Weinstein Company), the University of North Carolina School of the Arts grad plays the youngest member of a moonshine bootlegging gang (the other members are played by Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke), struggling to make a living in Depression-era Franklin Country, Virginia during the Prohibition Era. The film, which premiered at Cannes earlier this year, marks director John Hillcoat's reunion with writer-musician Nick Cave, who penned his breakout feature, "The Proposition." Cave's scipt for "Lawless" is based off of Matt Bondurant's novel "The Wettest County in the World."
Indiewire caught up with DeHaan to find out which of his upcoming projects he's most proud of, talk "Lawless," and find out what he and LaBeouf have in common.
You must be the envy of most actors having seemingly bypassed the 'movies best left ignored' stage. How did you do that?
Inevitably, I think the people that want to work with me are also the people that I want to work with. I think that can really come through in a meeting. I can't really sit down in a meeting for some shitty movie and be like, "Wow I really want to be part of this," and come across as genuine. It's not until I sit in a room with people that I respect. I've been lucky to come across some kindred spirits in that way, and those are the people I get off with. I guess because of that, those are the kind of people I've ended up working with.
Has it been challenging to maintain that sense of integrity while navigating the movie making business?
It is. It requires patience and it requires tenacity. This is a business that we are a part of, but I would like to think of myself as an artist within this business. To me it's just kind of about reminding myself why I do this and why I've always done this, and not letting the glitz and glamour of it all take control of me.
What or who do you credit that mature mindset to?
Well, maybe acting school? I started going to acting school in my senior year in high school and I remained in acting school through four years of college. During very formative years of my life I was looking into myself, I was peering into who I am as a human being and trying to get a truthful grasp of that. I think that I tried as hard as I could to go through that without any judgement. I think in the end I came away with a pretty good understanding of the human condition.
And that's kind of been the basis for my work -- truth and the human condition.
The Prohibition-era is so vividly depicted in "Lawless." John Hillcoat does a remarkable job of rooting his film in such a tangible reality. What did you do to make that time period a reality for you as a performer?
Some of the things we did that were really helpful, like one time we met with a moonshiner, a modern day one living now. What came across to me more than anything, was if I was as extreme as that guy is in real life, they would think that I was way over the top. He was just such a character. That kind of gave me a lot of freedom I think to delve into this world, and understand who these people were. They really are down and dirty people who are all about this thing -- moonshine is an art form to them, it runs their live. It is what they are masters at.
It really started from that. If that's what these people do, what comes along with that, and who are these people because of that.