With the looks of a young DiCaprio, Harry Potter as on-screen love interest and a total rebooting of Harry Osborn for the next Spider-Man blockbuster, the fairground ride just got crazier for Dane DeHaan.
Words: Mark Jacobs. Photography: Terry Richardson. Styling: Ben Reardon.
The new feature Kill Your Darlings, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C Hall and Dane DeHaan, can be read as a re-enactment of famed beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s coming-of-age as a freshman at New York City’s Columbia University in 1944. It can also be seen as a slash fiction in which Harry Potter fights psychopath Dexter Morgan for the heart of Spider-Man nemesis and future Green Goblin, Harry Osborn. Either way, DeHaan is the film’s soft-featured, tortured heart, a 27-year-old actor’s actor whose career of finely chosen roles in pedigreed, left-of-centre projects will explode in the summer of 2014 when he appears opposite Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Harry Osborn in the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man. He’s developed a skill for holding veteran talents to ransom on screen. At the Coney Island shoot his starring role in Chronicle causes a brace of young fans to run over shouting “Hey, it’s the dude with the superpowers!” Somebody missed a franchise opportunity by exterminating him in a generous grossing box office smash.
In Kill Your Darlings, DeHaan embodies the charismatically reckless Lucien Carr, a crucial link in the original Beat Generation, who activates the potential of Ginsberg, played by Radcliffe. After a romantic courtship of academic spooning, Benzedrine and finger-sucking, Ginsberg falls for Carr, who pits Ginsberg’s affections against the obsessive attention of intellectual senior David Kammerer (Hall).
The true story dictates that Carr soon achieves national infamy for murdering Kammerer and then arguing an “honour slaying” defence. “Historically, Lucien was the kind of person who, when he was younger, would literally sink ships just so he could feel what it was like for the ships to sink. He would go to restaurants and order the most expensive steak raw just so he could throw it in the waiter’s face. That was his way of hiding, in a way,” says DeHaan, who has proven himself adept at twisting emotion then flipping from soft to furious. ‘Kill Your Darlings is really about artists finding themselves and feeling like outsiders until they discover their place in the world.”
DeHaan’s artistic trajectory has been certain since his early childhood in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he attended a musical theatre camp while four years old. He describes sleeping through classes in high school, eagerly anticipating rehearsals for the school play, after which he would throw back fast-food before night-time rehearsals for the community production. “It wasn’t really much of a decision. It was what I always liked doing. Any opportunity there was to do anything having to do with acting I would do it,” he says. “There was never a doubt in my mind that this is what I wanted to do”
After graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2008, DeHaan embarked on a run of critically acclaimed theatre work. He began as Haley Joel Osment’s understudy in a Broadway revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo. By 2010, he had received an Obie award for his role in Off-Broadway’s The Aliens. His breakout was as a sexually compulsive Brooklyn hipster on the third season of the HBO series In Treatment that introduced Hollywood to a talent that could bring to life both a mongrel bootlegger in 2012’s Prohibition drama Lawless (opposite Jessica Chastain, Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy) and an inbred werepanther named Timbo on True Blood.
His fashion credentials were cemented when he starred alongside Harvey Keitel and Benicio Del Toro in the stunning print and billboard campaign for the SS13 Prada collection, photographed by David Sims.
DeHaan chooses projects on instinct. There are no obvious deployments of his cool Leonardo DiCaprio features. “It’s important to me to challenge myself and to keep it different, whether it’s the genre or just the nature of how it’s being shot or the role itself,” he says. “If it’s not a challenge I just get bored really easily and I stop having fun.” DeHaan describes shooting this year’s unorthodox 3D IMAX concert film Metallica Through The Never as “probably the most unique experience I will maybe ever have”. He plays a Metallica roadie named Trip who endures a journey through a surreal dystopia without much dialogue. “I’m
the central character in the narrative portion and I don’t speak the whole time. I think I say, ‘Hey’ one time. I thought it was so unique and so kind of undeniably cool, and that it would present challenges that no other job would ever present, and so I had to be involved.” There is already talk of him exploding into flames to “Enter Sandman”.
Chronicle came out of nowhere in 2012, co-starring DeHaan as one of three high school seniors who develop unearthly powers. The estimated $12 million creation of the relatively untested Max Landis and Josh Trank grossed more than $126 million worldwide. “I always knew it was something special and that if we could pull it off people would embrace how special it was,” says DeHaan, who, after our conversation, began shooting his first comedy, Life After Beth, in which he stars opposite an undead Aubrey Plaza.
DeHaan’s CV gained him the coveted part of Peter Parker’s friend-turned-nemesis-turned-second-generation Green Goblin Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (played by James Franco in the Sam Raimi trilogy). “It was a really long, drawn-out process and I fought
incredibly hard for it,” DeHaan recalls. “They weren’t going to see me for the role at first. I guess I wasn’t their idea of who the character was. Even at the test, I felt like everyone else was different to me, in these suits with slicked back hair. And that just wasn’t my idea of a modern day Harry Osborn. He’s a bit of a playboy but in the 50s, 60s and 70s that was a different thing to what it is today. I tried to make him fit with the people that I know who are like him — the trust fund babies and the hipsters and the true high society of young New York City.”
When the rush of blockbuster publicity that accompanies the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 arrives, DeHaan will have an evolved Young Hollywood story to broadcast to the world, including the millions who will be meeting him for the first time. He is successfully operating beyond the one-for-them, one-for-me model of past decades. “I can definitely sense the momentum and see the opportunities getting bigger,” he says. “I mean the opportunities have gotten bigger. It’s all good and it’s all happy days.”