Dane DeHaan Goes 'Beyond' The Norm

Focus Features

Hollywood loves to dub an actor "The Next Big Thing" -- typically this honor comes with countless covers, oodles of interviews and enough publicity to make a Kardashian blush. But those touted thusly have a tendency to flame out before actually earning their stripes, leaving the door open for an actor to achieve the honor based on talent alone.

Dane DeHaan is distinctly the latter.

He seemingly flew out of nowhere with an attention-grabbing performance in 2012's Chronicle (although In Treatment fans were keenly aware of his talents in 2010), and has quickly established himself as one of Hollywood's most exciting emerging talents thanks to roles in Lawless, Lincoln and The Place Beyond The Pines.

The gripping drama offers a masterful exploration of the impact fathers have on their sons, and, without giving too much away, DeHaan functions as a nature-vs-nurture debate for the ages. ETonline caught up with the actor, who has truly earned that Next Big Thing moniker to talk Pines, polarizing projects and his role as Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

ETonline: What did you think of this script the first time you read it?

Dane DeHaan: I recognized it as an ambitious film, for sure. But also the first time I read it, I knew Derek [Cianfrance, director] would be the captain of this ship, so I knew we could pull it off. It was definitely something that would be a lot more frightening going into if there wasn't someone I knew I could trust taking control of the project.

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ETonline: What appealed to you about your character, Jason?

DeHaan: I just really felt for him. I saw where he was coming from. He's on this epic quest to find out exactly who he is. He wants answers and feels that if he can find those answers, it will set him free. I think on some level, that's a universal story and I just really related to that particular aspect of this particular journey.

ETonline: There have been wildly different reactions to this film. Is evoking a reaction, for good or for bad, the sign you're made a successful film?

DeHaan: I don't think that statement is true for all movies. It depends on what kind of movie you're making. There are certainly plenty of films that are created strictly for mass appeal, so if you get a lot of people leaving those feeling angry, you haven't accomplished your goal in making that kind of movie. But yes, this is an ambitious film and Derek was sticking to his guns -- this is a work of art, and I think great art is polarizing. If you can have people leave our theater and have inspired a very robust conversation because of the piece of art you've created, you've certainly succeeded.

ETonline: Do you think Kill Your Darlings [true story about a 1944 murder that brings Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs together] will inspire similar conversations?

DeHaan: Yeah, definitely [laughs]. I think, again, that's a movie that leaves a lot to be talked about. First of all, Kill Your Darlings is a story everybody should know, so the pure facts of the story are a really interesting undiscovered lesson for most people. Second, there are themes and scenes that will provoke many an interesting conversation for sure.

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ETonline: At this phase in your career, what's driving the choices you're making?

DeHaan: Ultimately, I'm attracted to individuals and the specific characters. I'm a firm believer in the idea that any kind of movie can be great. I've seen every genre of movie at some point in my life, and enjoyed every genre of movie. In my career, I would love to have a stab at a little bit of everything as I continue to challenge myself and keep it different. There are a lot of factors that go into the project I'm going to do next, but as my career progresses, I think it's becoming more and more about finding the interesting, complex characters to play, not necessarily the genre of movie that character is in.

ETonline: What makes Harry Osborn someone who fits into that?

DeHaan: Well, I can't go too much into it, but I can assure you that Harry is a very complex dude that goes on a very interesting journey. The script is really great -- it definitely takes Spider-Man movies to another level.

ETonline: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the biggest film you've ever been a part of. How has that adjustment been?

DeHaan: We're filming this movie over six months, and before that, the longest I'd ever worked on a movie was nine weeks, so I've had to get used to moving at a much slower pace than I'm used to. But, the upside is that I have a lot more time to work on my character. From the point where I got the character to my first day on camera, I had four months.

ETonline: From an acting standpoint, is it tougher to maintain a character over such a prolonged period of time?

DeHaan: Yeah, it does present a lot of challenges because I'm also not on-set every day and there are weeks where I'm not working. I can't turn [the character] off, but I also can't keep it completely on. It's a fine line and a balance I'm still getting used to managing. But it's great as an actor to get my work done and show up prepared. Plus, at the end of the day, I get to be in this awesome movie -- it's a dream come true.

The Place Beyond The Pines
is now playing.