If you haven’t been introduced to Dane DeHaan on In Treatment or True Blood, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the 24-year-old up-and-comer on the big screen this year. He has three meaty movies on the docket (The Road’s John Hillcoat and Blue Valentine’s Derek Cianfrance directed two of them), and starting today you can see him in the supernatural, found-footage thriller Chronicle. He plays a brooding teenager who acquires supernatural powers. We spoke to DeHaan about his fast-rising career, road-tripping with Shia LaBeouf, and his uncanny resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio.
First off, I want to thank whoever decided to give your character such a steady camera hand, since his footage is a big part of the movie. I say this as someone who’s been nauseated too many times by shaky-cam, found-footage movies.
Yeah, it’s a novel idea that the person filming would have a steady hand.
This is your biggest movie role so far. Will you be going online to read reviews?
I usually do check out the online reviews. Actually, I read Ebert’s this morning. But then I also have a lot of other things I need to focus on, like the next movie I’m making. I can’t really spend my days thinking about how cool it is that Chronicle is coming out. I definitely have to compartmentalize.
Something about you seems very suited for characters with dark stories. What do you think directors see in you that makes them want to cast you in these darker roles?
I’m not really sure. I think it’s a weird mix of I look younger and yet I still seem older. I have circles under my eyes, I know; but I also think that I have a maturity.
Have you ever auditioned for roles on teen TV series, like a CW show?
I remember when I lived in New York and all of my friends were auditioning for Gossip Girl, I was thinking, WHY doesn’t Gossip Girl want me to audition for them?
Aw. You felt a little left out?
I honestly did. I felt like it was this thing, like you have to be this unbelievably pretty New York actress, or young actor/actress, and then you get to audition for Gossip Girl. And I did not belong to the club.
But you’re starring in some pretty exciting movies this year. Can you talk about your role in Wettest County with Shia LaBeouf?
I play a character named Cricket Pate. He’s a young guy with rickets, which means the bones in his legs are a little misshapen because of a lack of vitamin D. He fixes up cars and is a bit of mechanical genius. He’s the best friend to Shia [LaBeouf]’s character, and together they scheme and get into all sort of trouble selling moonshine and that kind of thing.
I heard that you had a road trip with Shia from L.A. to Georgia?
Because we play best friends in the movie, it was important to us to have that bond shine through. So he rented a car and we drove cross-country from L.A. to Georgia. We spent four days in a car together, getting to know each other.
Did you play road games?
We listened to some music. We spent Valentine’s Day together in a very fancy gumbo place in Shreveport, Louisiana, which was actually pretty hilarious. We were wearing, like, ripped-up jeans and road-trip clothes and we walk in and it’s all of these people from Shreveport, Louisiana, in suits and ties with their Valentine’s Day dates. And there’s me and Shia. We walk up to the [hostess stand] — well, he walks up to it, and he’s like, “Hey, it’s Shia. I called before.” And the woman of course freaked out that it was Shia and they sat us right away. And here we were, two men in Shreveport, Louisiana, at this old-school gumbo place in our torn-up jeans, on Valentine’s Day.
So besides Wettest County, you’ve also got the new Derek Cianfrance movie coming up, The Place Beyond the Pines. What can you tell us about that?
I play Ryan Gosling’s son. It’s a generational story, so essentially the first third of the movie is really all about Ryan, and then the last third of the movie takes place eighteen or nineteen years after Ryan’s part of the story. And it’s about a son that he had during his part of the story.
You probably hear it all the time, but you look a lot like a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Did people tell you this when you first went to Hollywood?
Yeah. I’ve heard it so much more in the last couple years, but I do remember the first time I ever heard it was in a community theater production I did when I was really young. I mean, maybe I was 12. I wore a tux in it and they slicked back my hair and I remember everyone saying I looked like Leo in Titanic. And then I didn’t hear it again for another seven years. Now I hear it all the time. It’s oftentimes one of the first things someone will say to me. Like, “Hey, good to meet you. Has anyone ever told you you look like a young Leonardo DiCaprio?”
Does it get a little tiresome?
If someone is gonna compare you to another actor when they were younger, who would you like them to compare you to? I’d probably go with Leonardo DiCaprio. I don’t think it’s really something I can complain about. He did great work when he was younger. And the girls went wild.