‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ star Dane DeHaan says playing the bad guy is a pretty good gig
Dane DeHaan is enjoying the sort of early career that most young actors would trade their porcelain veneers for. After storming onto the scene with the lauded sci-fi drama “Chronicle” in 2012, he has turned in critically acclaimed performances in such prestige picture as “The Place Beyond the Pines” and “Kill Your Darlings,” both released last year.
He has the rare industry luxury of being able to be somewhat choosy about what role he takes next.
As it turns out, for his next role the 28-year-old rising star — who has been likened to a young Leonardo DiCaprio, both because of his looks and his talent — chose director Marc Webb’s superhero sequel “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which trumpets the unofficial arrival of the 2014 summer movie season on May 2.
Yes, it’s a comic-book movie, and yes it’s sequel. But with both Hollywood and audiences taking comic-book movies as seriously as they’ve ever been taken before, don’t mistake this one as a frivolous entry on DeHaan’s resume. Likewise, don’t for a second think he approached it with anything less than the seriousness and intensity with which he always approaches his roles.
Not at all, DeHaan said, calling recently to discuss the film. Because, well, first of all, I had seen the first one and I really loved the first one. I think they did a really amazing job, and you know Marc is such a great director and Andrew (Garfield) is such a great actor, as is Emma (Stone). And I knew going into it I was already working with good people. Then the script was great — so that’s what I’m always looking to do: challenging roles and great scripts. So I don’t really think there’s anything really frivolous about it. Certainly there’s a bigger budget, but it was just as intense and challenging of an experience as anything else.
In fact, DeHaan was so confident in the film — and so eager to play the part of Spider-Man rival Harry Osborn and his villainous alter-ego, The Green Goblin — that he did what some might think an actor of his stature might be beyond: He auditioned for the role.
There was honestly no hesitancy,” he said. “I wanted to do this so bad. I actually fought really hard to be a part of it. … I had to audition for it, but just getting the audition for it was hard. I think they had a different idea at first of the kind of Harry Osborn they wanted, and I had to fight hard to get in the door and be like, ‘No, look, this is my take on Harry. This is my take on the modern-day Harry.’ All in all, it was probably like two months of auditions and waiting and tests. It was a battle to be a part of it. But in the end it was so worth it, and I’m so excited for everything.
Part of the reason for that excitement is because villain roles, especially in superhero movies, tend to be good and juicy. Not only do the bad guys usually get all the good one-liners, but they get the best costumes and, often, the most compelling storylines.
In “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” there’s also the fact that a good portion of the film is dedicated to the origins story of The Green Goblin. To hear DeHaan tell it, that provides an opportunity for the film to inject a little modern relevance into the story.
Here’s the thing, though: This character has been played before a number of times, including twice previously in big-budget blockbusters. First, there was Willem Dafoe’s version in director Sam Raimi’s 2002 “Spider-Man.” Then, James Franco took up the mantle as the New Goblin in 2007 for “Spider-Man 3.”
Those are two fine actors and two fine performances. But DeHaan didn’t see his performance as competing with either of theirs, or even building on them. Rather, he saw it as an opportunity to reinterpret the character and update him for modern audiences.
The character of Harry Osborn has been around for like 50 years — long before he was ever done in a movie,” DeHaan said. “He’s just a classic comic-book character. He’s a part of the ‘Spider-Man’ canon, and now that we have the ability to put this stuff on-screen, that’s exciting. But there hasn’t been a Harry Osborn in 10 years, and no one has ever seen the Harry Osborn of today. That’s what exciting: to take this archetypal character that’s a part of the ‘Spider-Man’ canon, and has been for so long, and place him in modern day and bring him to life in a new way.
That doesn’t mean he’ll be unrecognizable to fans. There’s still the classic Green Goblin glider as his chief mode of transport. There’s also still the green skin, as well as the pointy ears, the angry eyes, the pointy nose. All told, it took nearly four hours for DeHaan to get into his makeup and costume each day.
But it all comes together in a way that DeHaan and his “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” collaborators hope will come across as fresh to audiences.
For starters, fans will notice he’s wearing a more modern suit of armor, (designed by Oscorp Industries, natch).
If he just went into his closet and put on a purple skirt and a tank top, people might not take it as seriously being a modern-day movie, DeHaan said. His Goblin hair is also a departure, although it’s designed to stand at attention in a swooping shape intended to recall the purple hood that the classic comic-book Green Goblin favored, DeHaan said. We tried really hard to pay homage to, classically, what The Green Goblin is, but still within the context of bringing in the modern day, bringing in a new Green Goblin to the world and reinventing it in a way, he said.
Aside from the chance to bring something new to the table with his interpretation of the character, DeHaan has a personal reason for fighting to get the role. As it turns out, his part in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is something of a childhood dream come true.
I’ve never really read comic books, but I always used to dress up like superheroes when I was a kid, and I’ve always loved to go to comic-book movies, DeHaan said. I really remember liking The Flash for some reason., and then ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ was huge when I was a kid. You know: Superman, Spider-Man, Batman. Peter Pan, does that count? I’ve always loved to play pretend and I would dress up like all of them. I had all the different pajamas.
He still likes to play pretend — except now he gets paid for it.
Yeah, exactly, he said. I just take myself a lot more seriously when I’m doing it now. It’s all I’ve ever liked doing since I was a kid.
Of course, nowadays, you can’t make a superhero movie without immediate discussion of the possibility of a sequel. In that vein, Columbia Pictures already has plans for an “Amazing Spider-Man 3.” What’s more, there are plans for a spin-off series based on a handful of yet-to-be-revealed classic Spider-Man villains. That series is being referred to as ‘The Sinister Six” series.
As to whether the Green Goblin will be a part of that “Sinister” future has yet to be announced, but DeHaan said that those who go see “The Amazing-Spider Man 2” will see hints that there’s more to Greenie’s story.
I really don’t know the future of Harry or the Green Goblin, he said. I haven’t seen any sort of script or anything. But I think it’s really obvious when you watch this movie that it’s setting up for something bigger. There’s definitely something bigger to come.
And would he be interested in being a part of that something?
Yeah, absolutely, he said. I had such a great time, I really did. It kind of exceeded my expectations. It was like my childhood dreams and my adult dreams all coming together in one. If they would invite me back, I’d go back gladly.