2015 – Little White Lies: Dane DeHaan
You can tell a lot about a celebrity from how they engage with social media. Some use it to boost their profile, others endorse brands or support worthy causes. Then there are people like Dane DeHaan, who prefer to treat it as a genuine extension of their personality, perhaps in the form of an as yet unanswered marriage proposal to @realDonaldTrump or sharing a photo of a particularly interesting snail.
There’s a serious side to the 29-year-old actor, of course, as evident in Chronicle, Lawless, Kill Your Darlings and now Life, director Anton Corbijn’s behind- the-lens look at James Dean. LWLiesspoke to DeHaan about playing Hollywood’s most enduring icon and why he’s happy doing things his own way.
LWLies: You’re fairly active on Instagram and Twitter. How do you think James Dean’s legacy might have been affected if social media was around in his day?
DeHaan: I really like social media because I get to use it on my own terms. I get to put up there what I want to put up there. It’s a good opportunity for me to let people in on the kind of person I really am. Compare that to when James Dean was around, his Instagram would have had to been completely controlled by the studio because it was a time when actors were kind of drafted by studios, so there image was not within their control. James Dean started working for a studio and he was cast as the cool, rebellious guy – he didn’t have any control over that. That’s the image people still have of him today. In a lot of ways, actors have a lot more control over their careers and their public image today.
Do you think it’s possible for an actor to become a James Dean level icon today?
I don’t know, I guess the equivalent now is having your own blockbuster franchise or whatever.
Aside from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is there a reason you’ve avoided that route?
Not really. I just think I would love for my career to be a slow burn. I have no desire to blow up and then fizzle out.
It seems the higher an actor’s social profile, the greater the risk. As someone in the public eye do you feel like you’re only ever on ill-judged tweet away from career suicide?
I mean I think about what I tweet and the photos I post, and I understand that what I do gives me a voice and people listen. Sometimes I try to do things for the greater good and others I just mess around and have fun. I don’t think I’ve ever tweeted anything that could potentially ruin my career. I hope not, anyway. But I don’t really feel the need to constantly update everyone, I just do it when I feel like I have something to say.
You’ve got a couple of films coming up with Cara Delevigne, who seems to do pretty well on social media.
Yeah, I haven’t spent much time with her yet but I’ll definitely be looking to get some pointers off her.
We imagine studio execs talk about stuff like social media followers a lot.
Fortunately that’s not really my side of the business, but I’m sure it happens a lot more often than people might think. I would hate to think how many casting sessions have come down to the number of Twitter followers someone has.
How would you react if a studio exec told you to get more social media followers?
That’s the great conundrum of our business. That’s what James Dean struggled with – he was an artist who wanted to work with the best in the industry to become the best in the industry, but at that time you were completely owned by the studio and sadly he never got that opportunity. In a way the system still works like that, it’s just a little different. I still consider myself an artist, I do this because I love acting, I love the work, but movies are big business and you have to acknowledge that. It will always be frustrating being an artist, trying to exist in a corporate world. Which is why I try and balance things between bigger studio movies and smaller independent movies. You know, movies like Life, where I’m gonna be given more freedom to learn and express myself. But I really don’t know what I would do if someone told me I needed more Twitter followers. I don’t even know what one does to get more. I’m just happy doing my thing.