IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Dane DeHaan Talks 'Lawless' Blu-ray, 'Lincoln,' 'Devil's Knot,' and 'The Place Beyond the Pines'

Tuesday, 27 November 2012 20:51 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Dane DeHaan Talks 'Lawless' Blu-ray, 'Lincoln,' 'Devil's Knot,' and 'The Place Beyond the Pines'

Dane DeHaan is having one hell of a good year! The actor, who until this year was best known for his roles on the HBO series In Treatment and True Blood, has had not one but three major movies released in 2012. 

DeHaan first gained attention earlier this year for his role as a teenager that gains super powers and then travels to the dark side in the surprise hit, found footage film Chronicle. He was next seen in director John Hillcoat’s critically acclaimed ensemble film Lawless, which will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning November 27th and stars Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy. Not to mention, that DeHaan can also currently be seen in a small role as a soldier in director Steven Spielberg’s historical epic Lincoln. If that wasn’t enough, the actor has several high profile projects on the horizon including The Place Beyond the Pines with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, Devil’s Knot about the West Memphis Three, and a possible role as Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while that is still a rumor and has yet to be confirmed. 

In Lawless, which is based on the novel “The Wettest County in the World" by Matt Bondurant, DeHaan plays Cricket Pate, the crippled best friend of Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf). Jack and his older brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) run a profitable depression-era bootlegging business that is threatened by a crooked law officer named Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce). In addition to DeHaan, LaBeouf, Hardy, Clarke, and Pearce, the film’s impressive cast also includes Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), and Academy Award-nominees Jessica Chastain (The Help), and Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy). Lawless was directed by acclaimed filmmaker John Hillcoat (The Road) and was written by his frequent collaborator, Australian musician Nick Cave.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with actor Dane DeHaan about his work on Lawless, as well as Lincoln, and the upcoming films Devil’s Knot, and The Place Beyond the Pines. The talented young actor discussed making Lawless, working with John Hillcoat, Tom Hardy’s unusual performance, creating his character, researching the prohibition era, reading the book, how he became friends with Shia LaBeouf, shooting his most powerful scenes with Guy Pearce, as well as Lincoln, what its like to work on a Steven Spielberg set, his role in Devil’s Knot, and collaborating with director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) on The Place Beyond the Pines.

Here is what he had to say:

IAR: To begin with, were you a familiar with director John Hillcoat’s previous films, The Proposition and The Road, before you began working with him on Lawless?

Dane DeHaan: I'm not going to lie; I hadn't seen a Hillcoat movie when I auditioned for this. But shortly after getting the part, I was over at Shia's house and he showed me the first scene of The Proposition and my jaw was on the floor. I was so excited that this was the dude we got to work with. I obviously have since seen The Proposition and The Road, and I saw those before we started working together. So I developed an immense amount of respect for him before we started working for sure. 

What’s it like working with him on set? Did you have time to do several different takes of each scene or did you have to just shoot it once or twice and move on?

DeHaan: He is as gentle as his movies are violent. He creates a really good vibe on set. We were moving super fast. We were doing thirty set ups a day, and we didn't have time to do a lot of takes. But we knew that going into it and because of that he had two weeks of rehearsal where the cast sat around the table with Hillcoat and (screenwriter) Nick Cave. We went through the script, we made the changes we wanted to make, we developed the scenes we wanted to develop and then kind of arrived on the same page as far as what we wanted to achieve when that day came on set. For me it was a collaborative, but incredibly efficient way of working that I really loved. He was really incredible in the way he developed that system. 

I was really impressed with Tom Hardy’s unusual performance in the film. When you first saw how he was going to portray his character during the rehearsal process, what was your initial reaction to his performance?

DeHaan: I think what blew me away about Hardy was the way that he can kind of go in and out of it. He obviously created this really interesting, complex, unique character that I think nobody else would've ever arrived at where he arrived at. It was so fleshed out and great. But I felt that way about so many of the actors in the movie. They were all so impressive. But what's amazing about Hardy is his ability to go in and out of it and be Hardy one second and then be this completely unique fleshed out character the next. 

You also give a very unique and fleshed out performance in the film. Can you talk about creating Cricket’s walk and the process you went through as an actor to play this role?

DeHaan: There are a couple of things that were really important to me with Cricket. I wanted him to come across as a human being. I didn't want him to be the funny, limping, sidekick, or a one-dimensional character, which I think he could've turned into. I wanted him to be a human like he actually was, and a lot of that had to do with the walk actually because I think the stereotype of rickets is bowlegs. I didn't want to do bowlegs because I thought that would kind of evoke all sorts of stereotypical reactions in people, so I worked really hard talking to doctors and looking up pictures to see how I wanted my legs to bend and what I wanted my walk to look like. Then it was about working really closely with the costume department because I realized I couldn't bend my legs like that and I could walk like that, but I had to walk on the side of my feet. It didn't look like my feet were flat on the ground, which is obviously what it would look like if I did have rickets. The costume department was really amazing because they developed these shoes that were at an angle so it gave the illusion my feet were flat on the floor, but I was actually walking at a very consistent angle on the sides of my feet the whole time to maintain the consistency of the rickets. 

Did you do any research into the time period when the film takes place, or did you just stick to reading the script and the novel that it is based on?

DeHaan: I absolutely do all of that. I do an incredible amount of work on the script, I do an incredible amount of work on the time period, and yeah, I read the book too. You can learn something from everything so I did do it all and tried to see what sticks. Cricket's a little different in the book, but I think what I got from the book that the script didn't really talk about is his crouching. It always talks about him kind of almost in a kneeling, crouching position, which I think you can see in the film when Charlie Rakes (Pearce) goes into the Aunt’s house and I’m watching Jason (Clarke) beat the crap out of those cops. You know, he's in a bit of a squat then and I got that from the book and the time period. Also what's really interesting is this culture of moonshiners still exists today and it's still alive and well in a very similar way to the way it was back then. The people that are still making the moonshine are straight out of Lawless. We talked to those people and it was really great to see them. One thing I really got from those people was what characters they are. I remember leaving a meeting with one of them and saying to Shia that if I was as much of a character with Cricket as that guy I was talking to was, people would think I was unrealistic and over the top. So that gave me a whole lot of freedom to really not be scared to go there.

Cricket and Jack have a very close relationship in the movie and I understand that you and Shia LaBeouf did not actually know each other before you began shooting. What kind of work did the two of you do together as actors to make that friendship as believable as it is in the film?

DeHaan: Yeah, well one thing that's really important in my work is developing relationships. I think relationships have a lot to do with who we are as people. We look at everyone different. So if there's a script and there's someone in it that's going to be my best friend, it's just going to be a hell of a lot easier to act like he's my best friend if we become really good friends beforehand. Shia feels the same way about his work too. He’s somebody that really likes to do things instead of acting them. So we arrived at the conclusion that it would be a good idea to take a road trip from L.A. to Georgia and just really get to know one another. We tried to become friends in that time and it was a really great idea. I think it was a brave thing for both of us to do, and it provided the results we were looking for. Shia is super-passionate, he loves acting and he's a true artist. He's just now in the past couple years being afforded the opportunity to truly express himself in that way and I think it's really exciting. I think he's a great actor, absolutely. 

Another great actor who you work with in the movie is Guy Pearce. Without giving too much away, you share a fantastic and extremely emotional scene with him towards the end of the film. Can you talk about working with him on that scene?

DeHaan: Working with Guy Pearce is a dream come true. I think he's an incredible actor, and he's such a chameleon. I'll be watching a movie that I've seen ten times before and then finally I realize that it’s Guy Pearce in the movie. It was amazing to be around that kind of talent and he's also such a kind, collaborative person. So doing those scenes was all about bringing what we both brought to the table, hashing it out in the scene and then talking about how we can make it better. It was such an amazing couple of days because I really felt like we both worked together in a really beautiful way to achieve something really wonderful and after seeing the film I'm really proud of those scenes. 

On another subject, you are also currently appearing in Lincoln in a small role. I have to ask you, what is it like being on a Steven Spielberg set? 

DeHaan: It was an amazing experience. I was only on set for two days. It was a huge production. You would look in one spot one second and there would be nothing there, then and you would turn your head and look the other way and all of a sudden there would be like five hundred horses there. It was just incredible to be on a set where you're acting with Daniel Day Lewis, and then you look to your left after a take and Steven Spielberg was there. I wish I could’ve had more of an opportunity to dig deep with them and really work with them. But even in the two days that I was there, I could tell something special was happening and that it was going to be a great movie. I'll always be incredibly proud to call that my first cameo. 

Well that’s a pretty great movie to have your first cameo in, isn’t it?

DeHaan: Yeah, right? I think it's not bad.

You also have another movie coming up called Devil’s Knot, which is about the West Memphis Three. Do you play one of the accused in that?

DeHaan: I play another one of the suspects that had a very similar story to those three young men, but he didn't quite make as many headlines and they didn't really grab a hold of his confession in the way they grabbed a hold of the one boy’s confession. I'm a supporting role in the movie and my storyline I hope will help show what can happen after too many hours of interrogation. That is how they got the confession out of one of the three boys. It was after seventeen hours of interrogation. That's such an incredible story and I think it's amazing the way the nation, if not the world, has latched onto it. I hope we do them proud and I think we did. 

Finally, you’ll be appearing in director Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines next year along with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. What was your experience like working with Cianfrance and the rest of the cast on that project?

DeHaan: Working with Derek was amazing, just absolutely unbelievable. He's such a unique artist. He challenges you, but at the same time puts an amazing amount of trust in you and what comes out is an incredibly creative process. It's kind of three movies in one. Ryan stars in the first one, Bradley stars in the second one and I star in the third one and all of our stories weave in and out. I am incredibly, incredibly proud of that movie, I think it's a really great film and Ryan does unbelievable work in it and Bradley does unbelievable work in it and I really can't wait for the world to see it. I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have made that film. 

Lawless will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download beginning November 27th.

To watch our exclusive interview with director John Hillcoat about Lawless, please click here.

Lincoln is currently in theaters.

To read our exclusive interview with James Spader about Lincoln, please click here.

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