2013 – T Magazine

Dane DeHaan Makes His Own Way

Photograph by Bruce Weber. Styled by Joe McKenna.
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In just one year, Dane DeHaan has become the actor with whom almost everyone in Hollywood wants to work. But for now, Bruce Weber gets a turn.

DANE DEHAAN’S CAREER is something of a grab bag of high and low, the curious and the curiously cool. In the last two years, he’s completed a $300 million movie (he plays Harry Osborn in “The Amazing Spider-Man” sequel), a $2 million movie (“Life After Beth”), fronted a Prada campaign and starred in an experimental 3-D concert film alongside Metallica (this month’s “Metallica Through the Never“). If there’s a thread that unites his work, it’s intelligent disaffectedness. At 27, DeHaan — with breakout roles in “The Place Beyond the Pines” and the Cannes sensation “Lawless” — has very quickly become our foremost interpreter of adolescent fury, instantly hailed as a successor to Leonardo DiCaprio. And not just because they basically share a face. The two are both masters at explosive rage barely concealed beneath a nice-guy veneer.

The actor has firmly carved his own path, tossing aside the Playbook for Rising Stars (only studio films! above-the-title roles!), choosing instead to color outside the lines. Even his personal life feels refreshingly modern. Last year, when a long stretch of work kept him from his wife, the actress Anna Wood (who has been his girlfriend since college), he lamented on Twitter: “Maybe we should just get married more often so we can see each other more?” His schedule is sometimes so hectic that his dog, Franny, has taken to hopping on his suitcase and staring up at him. “She’s like, ‘Are you seriously leaving again?’ ” he says.

EITHER EFFORTLESSLY HIP or just exhausted, DeHaan plops down for breakfast at Café Stella in Los Angeles on a recent Sunday, wearing green Ray-Bans, slip-on Vans and a threadbare black T-shirt. His phone buzzes with a text from Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, who wants to know if DeHaan would like to get a tea later. (He would.) Diving into a plate of eggs and merguez sausage, chatting happily about a zombie/romantic comedy he’s shooting in town, there’s no trace of the put-upon tortured youths he’s played so well on screen. In fact, DeHaan seems almost apologetic about his own very normal, super-supportive childhood in Allentown, Pa., where he did community theater with the blessing of his father (a computer programmer) and his mother (a project manager for Knoll Furniture). He refuses to pretend he’s anything but well raised, talking freely about the train rides he took into Manhattan to see theater (he knows all the words to “Rent”), his love of golf (he has an 8 handicap) and his post-college days, when he and Wood eked out a living as struggling actors. (He fondly recalls how his wife worked at a barbecue joint and would bring home leftover ribs and pork beans for dinner.) When asked where that tortured energy he’s so good at tapping into on screen comes from — and which will again be on display in this month’s “Kill Your Darlings,” when he plays Beat Generation icon Lucien Carr — he says simply: “It’s acting.”

BRUCE WEBER, who photographed DeHaan for T, remembers seeing the young actor in “Pines” and marveling at his intensity. DeHaan played a troubled high-school loner always searching — for information about his biological father, but really for some insight into masculinity and fate and genetics and the answers to all of life’s big questions. “Dane reminded me of a friend of mine I really adored,” Weber says of the performance, invoking River Phoenix’s name. “Not because of the way he looks or the way he acts, but that burning intensity that just seems to be able to burst at any moment,” he says. “That sort of incredible fearlessness in being vulnerable.”

A version of this article appears in print on 09/15/2013, on page M2124 of the NewYork edition with the headline: About A Boy.