Actor Dane DeHaan, whose filmography includes “Chronicle” and “Lincoln,” recently spoke with Phoenix Movie Examiner about his latest motion picture project “Lawless.”
In “Lawless,” which will be available beginning Tuesday, Nov. 27 at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley, Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke play three bootlegging brothers who make a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia and, as a result, find their loyalty is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation’s most notorious crime wave.
Question: What about this project appealed to you? In other words, why did you sign on to star in it?
Answer: It was a no-brainer to me. At the time that the script was presented to me – which was certainly one of the best scripts that [I have been given] – it was already assembled with one of the greatest casts that I had ever seen. It was full of actors that I would love to work with. I was also presented with a really intriguing, interesting and challenging character that I would get to play.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your character. In your own words, who is Cricket Pate?
A: Cricket has a feeble body but a strong mind and a huge heart. He is a mechanical genius that has found a home in the Bondurants’ garage and made best friends with the youngest brother Jack. Together, they scheme, soup up cars, run moonshine and try to make an impression on the operation.
Q: Did you do anything in particular to get into character and inhabit Cricket’s frame of mind?
A: I did research about the time and the culture. The one thing about moonshiner culture that is really amazing is that it exists today in a very similar way to how it existed back then. So we were able to talk to people that still keep this culture alive and these people very well could have been in the movie. Actually, if we had portrayed our characters with the life that these guys brought, I think that people would think we were over-the-top and unrealistic. But that was really helpful. The sets were also so realistic. They built Blackwater Station and they built my garage next door as actual set pieces – full-blown buildings – so when we were on set it felt like we were there and there was not so much pretending to do.
Q: You mentioned being drawn to this project partly because of its cast. What was it like to work alongside these actors?
A: It was amazing! I had made a John Sayles movie a year before this but this was the first big, commercial movie I had made. I felt like I went straight to the major leagues, playing with the Yankees. I soaked it up. I learned so much from all of them. They are all so amazing. I was truly honored to work with every single one of them.
Q: Can you pick out one thing in particular that you learned from one of them?
A: I learned something from everybody but I have always been an actor that kind of lets the external parts take over from what is going on on the inside. But seeing Guy Pearce work and seeing him show up on set having developed this entire look of his character – with a quarter-inch part in his hair, having just shaved his eyebrows – really made a lot of sense to me and made me realize that that is something I can focus on and try to enhance in my work from here on out.
Q: You have had quite a remarkable year, having appeared in three pretty high-profile releases. What has that been like?
A: It has been unbelievably exciting! It was great to make all of these movies the previous year and finally see the fruits of some of my labor. “Chronicle” was an overwhelmingly positive experience, “Lawless” was great and I am so proud to have my first cameo in “Lincoln.” I am also excited about all of the work that I still have coming out. It is by no means slowing down. It is only getting faster and faster and bigger and bigger and the opportunities are getting greater and greater. I am somebody who loves acting so much – it is something that I would prefer to always be doing – so the fact that I have been given the opportunity to thrive in this business has been a dream come true.
Q: Speaking of “Chronicle,” have you heard anything about its sequel?
A: I do not know what is going on with “Chronicle 2.” That it is Max Landis’ hands to create. I do not know if I am even in it but I was just so proud of the first one and I hope that they maintain its integrity do not just cash in on the commercial success of it. I hope that it is something truly special like the first one was.
Q: You have three more movies already lined up for release in 2013. Can you give me a preview of “The Place Beyond the Pines?”
A: “The Place Beyond the Pines” was amazing. To work with Derek Cianfrance is challenging and hard and ultimately unbelievably rewarding. He just has a way of working that is not only collaborative but also incredibly creative. He puts so much trust in you as an artist. I felt so whole after working on that film. And, now having seen it, that is the film of mine that I am most proud of to date. I am really excited for that movie to be shown to the world.
Q: And how about “Devil’s Knot?”
A: “Devil’s Knot” is the story of the West Memphis Three. I have a supporting role in it. It is a really terrible but incredible story and I think that it is amazing how the world has latched on to it. I really hope that we did it justice. And Atom Egoyan is a really great director. I had a really great time working with him.
Q: Finally, “Kill Your Darlings?”
A: I had such a fun time making “Kill Your Darlings.” I was surrounded by other actors my own age that have such a love of life and a love of the work. It is a movie about the beat poets – how Allen Ginsberg becomes Allen Ginsberg. It is kind of a love story between me and Daniel Radcliffe’s character. It was so much fun. And it was rogue in so many ways. We made the movie in 26 days. We did not even have trailers. I think that we kept the beat spirit alive.