In many ways, Dane DeHaan is the emotional center of the gritty "Lawless," a Depression-era crime drama about the Virginia bootlegging operation of three brothers, played by Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke. DeHaan plays Cricket, a gentle soul who becomes a moonshine maker to assist his best friend Jack Bondurant (LaBeouf) and is later caught up in the extreme violence that occurs toward the end of Prohibition. The John Hillcoat-directed movie written by Nick Cave is based on a true story and opens in theaters on August 29.
Prior to "Lawless," DeHaan played a teen with extraordinary telekinetic powers in the found-footage film "Chronicle" and made an impression on TV shows like "True Blood" and "In Treatment." The 25-year-old up-and-comer chatted us up about the pain involved in playing Cricket in "Lawless" and his upcoming roles in two prestigious films.
Whose idea was it for you to be fitted with special shoes to mimic Cricket's disability due to rickets in "Lawless"?
It was my idea to meet with a doctor and talk about rickets. He just informed me on what it was. I started to look at pictures and, stereotypically, people think of bowlegged people when they think of rickets. When you look at the pictures, it can be more complicated than that. There were pictures of people's legs that were bent in the same direction. I couldn't do that without walking on the sides of my feet, so I talked to the costume department about building shoes with a slant in them so I could walk on the sides of my feet but still give the appearance that my feet were flat on the ground.
Were you in a lot of the pain every day at the end of the shoot from walking that way?
Yes, truthfully it did. It left me in a lot of pain.
Guy Pearce is really intense and scary in "Lawless" as Special Agent Charlie Rakes, with whom you have an unforgettable scene. Did he stay in character between scenes?
Guy switches it on and off. It's kind of amazing how he can go into it and, when the scene is done, he'll turn to you and say, "What did you think of that one?" He's a very collaborative artist and always in conversation, not like, "I'm going to stay in character and no one can bother me."
Tell us about your role in "The Place Beyond the Pines."
"The Place Beyond the Pines" is going to be at the Toronto Film Festival. I am really excited for the world to see that movie. I have never been more proud to be a part of anything in my life. Derek [Cianfrance, the director] has been really careful — he doesn't want anyone to know too much about it before it's shown in Toronto. It's a generational movie, and I play the son of Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes. That doesn't make sense when I say it, but it will make a whole lot of sense when people see the movie.
It was a very, very fulfilling artistic experience and a challenge to me that left me wholly satisfied. When I saw the final product, I was blown away. It's a great film. It doesn't have distribution yet, but we'll find out really soon if it's coming out this year or next year.
"Chronicle" is one of the best found-footage films ever. If you could come back, would you appear in a sequel? Is there any talk?
My understanding is that there is talk of a sequel. It's not in my hands, so I don't spend much time thinking about it. But I would love the opportunity to honor the first one with the second one. I'm really proud of the end result of the original, and we did create something really special. I hope that if there is a second one that it continues to honor what we did. If I had an opportunity to do that, it would be a fun challenge to make a sequel.
What can you tell us about the biographical drama "Kill Your Darlings"?
Daniel Radcliffe plays a young Allen Ginsberg. He goes to Colombia University and meets up with this guy that I play, Lucien Carr, who wasn't a writer himself but is responsible for introducing Ginsberg, Burroughs and Kerouac to each other. Carr inspires Ginsberg to be who people know Ginsberg as today. Also, at this time, Carr had an overbearing relationship with an older man, and he actually ended up murdering that man. So the film is really about Ginsberg becoming Ginsberg through the catalyst of Lucien Carr at the time of these murders.
What would you be doing if you weren't acting?
I've always said that if I could do anything in the world, I would be a professional golfer. I love golf. I'm just not good enough, so I'm an actor.
What was your first acting gig?
Right out of school, I was a part of the Eugene O'Neill Music Theater festival … a musical, actually. It was like a two-week workshop.
Who is your acting inspiration?
I always wanted to be an actor, but my top three favorite actors of all time are Al Pacino, James Dean and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
What music are you listening to, and would any music by your "Lawless" screenwriter Nick Cave be on your iPod?
I do have Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on my iPhone. I really like the Avett Brothers and the National. They are kind of who I listen to the most now.
New York or L.A.?
"Harry Potter," "Twilight" or "The Hunger Games"?
Rock or rap?
Beer or wine?
Well, that just depends on the occasion.
Twitter or Facebook?
Vampires, zombies or werewolves?
Oh wow. Zombies.
Lady Gaga or Madonna?
[Long pause] Lady Gaga.
UFC or WWE?