Lawless hits DVD and Blu-ray November 27 and if you get the Blu-ray, you’ll see some impressive detail in the Prohibition era costumes, and bright green colors in the backwoods of moonshiners. Shia Labeouf and Tom Hardy star as moonshiners going up against the law and the mob. Dane DeHaan plays their partner, and moonshine brewer, Cricket. We got to speak with DeHaan by phone before the holidays, right when his name was being suggested for the role of Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
CraveOnline: Has this been a really big year for you? It seems like a lot is happening for you.
Dane DeHaan: Oh yeah, it’s been really unbelievable. I had a big year the previous year but it was all work. None of it had come out, and then this year I got to see some of the fruits of my labor with Chronicle and Lawless. It’s been really exciting and it only makes me even more excited for next year.
Did you do Lawless before Chronicle?
I did, yeah. I shot Lawless and then 23 hours later I was on a plane on the way to shoot Chronicle.
Did you have any idea Chronicle would be out first and be sort of your big debut?
No, I didn’t. I guess I assumed that Lawless would come out first just because we filmed it first, but Chronicle was done under 20th Century Fox. Already when we made it, it already had a release date and all that. Lawless had to worry more about getting distribution and finding the proper path in terms of those kinds of things. Looking back on it, it all makes sense but at the time, being my first two big movies, it seemed like they would just come out in the order I made them.
Is there an aspect of Lawless that’s like playing dress-up?
Well, I think there’s an aspect of acting that’s playing dress-up. When you really think about it, we’re just adults in costumes pretending to be other people. That’s what we do for a living so I think really all projects are like that. We try to treat them with extreme realism and we take ourselves very seriously but at the end of the day, I don't think we’re doing anything much different than what a lot of people did as children.
I guess it’s particularly striking with Lawless because of the costumes and the era.
Yeah, absolutely but the work for me is the same. It’s still all about developing the character and trying to find a truthful way to be this person. The era always factors into that so I guess as a viewer it’s more obvious when you’re taken away from the time period you live in but as an actor, I try to treat all the work the same.
What did you do for Cricket specifically?
A lot of things but probably the most unique things I did for Cricket were mostly about developing the walk and finding a way to keep it consistent and talking to doctors about Rickets and not just the stereotypical bow-legged version of rickets but I wanted to find something a little more grounded and realistic, that couldn’t be made into quite so much of a stereotype. So talking to doctors and looking at photos and finding a way that I wanted my legs to look, I suppose. Then I worked really closely with the costume department to develop very specific shoes that basically had my feet on an angle so it looked like I had my legs bent, but still gave the appearance that I was supposedly walking on the flats of my foot. So that was one of the main things I did for Cricket. Other than that, Shia and I took a road trip which I’ve talked about a lot in the beginning of the process, on the way to Georgia from L.A. to help develop our relationship. That’s something I always do is try to have really solid relationships in my work, so probably the most unique thing I did was with the shoes.
Was it a really competitive audition for the role of Cricket?
Gosh, I have no idea. I don’t really focus on the competition of it or the other people when I’m looking at a project. It’s all about the work. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short time in this business, it’s that all I can really trust is the work and the rest of the stuff isn’t really real. It’s just stuff that people make up, and the competitive nature of it, you can spend all day trying to compare yourself to other people but at the end of the day, all you can be responsible for is yourself and your own work. That’s very much how I think about things.
We won’t spoil what happens in the scene, but it’s such a powerful scene, can you talk about shooting your scene with Guy Pearce?
Yeah, well, working with Guy Pearce was a dream come true. I think he’s an amazing actor and I think he’s just such a chameleon. I really looked forward to him showing up on set and I looked even more forward to the several days I knew we were going to have together. Although he’s so specific and believable in the role, on set he was such a collaborative, gentle soul. We tried to work hard, again, to figure out the best way to convey that scene and make it as realistic as possible. There was a lot of discussion in between takes about how it was going, how we could make it better, the physicality of it, just that kind of thing. He’s a true artist and a real collaborator and it was definitely a dream come true.
Did you have any ideas about Prohibition era either from what you studied in school or seen in other movies?
A little bit. I like “Boardwalk Empire” a lot so I was aware of that, but this is very different obviously. This is more moonshiner culture. I’m familiar with moonshiner culture because I went to school in the south. I’m married to a southern girl and she was actually really close to Virginia. I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that the moonshiner culture is still alive and well. It was thriving before Prohibition, during Prohibition and it still exists today. It’s really like an ancient art form. It didn’t just exist during Prohibition. People still are in the mountains of Virginia or North Carolina or Georgia making untaxed liquor and selling it. They’re such characters that if we actually tried to convey some of the characters I met doing research for the role, people would think we were over the top and they wouldn’t believe us. I think for me the movie, although it takes place during Prohibition, it’s much more about the moonshiner culture and I think it’s important to delineate the two and recognize that this is a culture that actually still exists today.
And if we know moonshine from “Dukes of Hazzard,” we have a lot to learn too.
There’s big news for you right now that you’re in the running for the role of Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. How far along are those talks?
You know, I would love to be in Spider-Man. I have a lot of respect for Andrew Garfield as a person and an artist and a lot of respect for Marc Webb as a person and an artist. If that opportunity were to come along, I would be really flattered and humbled to be a part of it. But that’s about it for now I guess.
Have you auditioned for it?
Well, I know there’s a lot of names being tossed around and rumors and stuff, but again, it’s a project I would love to do and if the opportunity would come along and the offer would come along, I would love to do it. Until then, I don't think it’s worth speculating or creating rumors.
There are a lot of names, and it’s a fortunate coincidence that I got to talk to you exactly when this is all happening.
[Laughs] It was quite a coincidence.
Would you get to be involved with Chronicle 2?
That’s really up to Max [Landis] and whether he writes me into the script. My thoughts on Chronicle 2 are that I’m extremely proud of the first one and if I were to be involved in a second one, I would be very passionate and careful to make sure we stick to what Chronicle is and whatChronicle has become and try not to cash in on the commercial aspects of it, but really stick to the purity of what we did the first time.
I wouldn’t count you out though.
You never know. It’s up to Max. I had a great time making the first one.
Is Devil’s Knot the West Memphis Three story?
Yeah, yeah, that’s the West Memphis Three story.
Are you playing one of the three boys?
I don’t play one of the three main suspects, no. I actually play another one of the suspects that had a very similar story to the three boys but he didn’t make the headlines as much. They’re using it as a really interesting device in the story to show the effects of what happens after 16 hours of interrogation.
What is his name?
Did you see all the Paradise Lost documentaries and now West of Memphis?
I haven’t seen the new one. I saw Paradise Lost but I haven’t seen the new one yet. I look forward to it. It’s a really complicated, interesting, heartbreaking story. The world has kind of latched onto these three guys so I think the movie does a really good job of doing their story justice and I’m excited to see the finished product.
What is Kill Your Darlings about?
Kill Your Darlings stars me and Dan Radcliffe, Ben Foster, Jack Huston and Lizzie Olsen and it’s about the Beat poets in college pretty much. It’s almost like a story about how Allen Ginsberg became Allen Ginsberg which was basically through the influence of this guy Lucien Carr. Ginsberg and Lucien were romantically involved with one another, but also Lucien is the first person to introduce Ginsberg to Kerouac and Burroughs. He was really the spark behind the Beat poet movement although he never wrote anything himself. So it tells a story of Ginsberg and Lucien during college leading up to this murder that Lucien committed. It’s a fairly complex story but at its core it’s how Allen Ginsberg became Allen Ginsberg at the time of these murders.
I got to see The Place Beyond the Pines in Toronto. What was your experience on that movie?
It was amazing. I’ve had collaborative experiences before but Place Beyond the Pines was the most creative experience I’ve ever had. Working with Derek [Cianfrance] is priceless. It’s an amazing, amazing opportunity. He really pushes you and challenges you but at the same time has all the trust in the world in you if he hires you. I had such an amazing time making that movie and I’m incredibly, incredibly proud of how it turned out. I’m really excited about it.
Are you living a different lifestyle now than you were maybe two years ago?
Well, I still drive the same car. I’m still in the same apartment, but I do travel a lot more for work. I go to a lot more fancy parties. The work, the business part of it has obviously changed. The opportunities have gotten greater but my personal life, I try to maintain some sense of groundedness. My personal life and the way I live my personal life hasn’t really changed, except I’m not really worried about making rent anymore I suppose.
Has booking the work increased dramatically?
Oh, absolutely. The opportunities continue to grow and grow. The scripts I’m reading I really think are the best scripts out there. I’m very, very thankful for all the opportunities that are coming my way.
Follow Fred Topel on Twitter at @FredTopel.