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Profile: The Rising Star of Dane DeHaan

April 25, 2014

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


Dane DeHaan

When a new great acting talent is discovered in Hollywood and transitions to the big leagues, to me it usually feels just like when one of my favorite bands goes from playing cool intimate club shows to those gargantuan but impersonal arenas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for those artists to thrive and find bigger audiences but sadly it often means that their music becomes something that’s mostly business-driven.

Luckily, just like there are bands that manage to maintain their artistic integrity and their music’s quality despite playing big sold out shows, there are also actors who even when reaching the well deserved spotlight with big blockbusters, find a good balance alternating their careers between those and some poignant awards-season films.

Dane DeHaan has just turned 28 in February and yet he’s already managed to accomplish extraordinary things in his young career. Many have called him the new Leonardo Di Caprio given his blonde hair, piercing blue eyes and overall boyish looks that make him suitable to play younger. But as much as I can see the resemblance, I believe Dane brings something quite fresh to the table: a sense of intrigue, magnetism and unpredictability that make him hard to pin down and perfect for the kind of well rounded, complex and tormented characters he’s been playing so far.

He so effortlessly pulls off anti-heroes with compelling humanity traits that is impossible to not get hooked on his performances. No matter how well a character is written, when actors have that little extra something special, they can truly make that character fly off the page and Dane undoubtedly belongs to that category.

Andrew Garfield;Dane DeHaan

Last week DeHaan has officially been consecrated to the pantheon of mainstream popularity with his role as Harry Osborn in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 but I’m sure that many of you, while watching his bromance with Peter Parker and then his villainous turn as Green Goblin against Spider-Man, will take a mental note of having acknowledged his talents elsewhere before.

It’s just the name recollection thing that somehow seems to elude most people unless a face is associated with a big overly CGI’d franchise. At least in this case we’re talking about one that besides the much beloved and anticipated spectacle also offers something meatier in the character department. That’s why Dane perfectly fits in this kind of mainstream franchise since he’s able to use his craft to make a famous comic book villain his own, giving a vivid portrait of Harry before he becomes Green Goblin.

Now, I’m not going to turn this piece into a full-on credit by credit account of DeHaan’s amazing career so far. You have IMDB for that and I highly recommend you check his page there and go watch everything he’s done. Meanwhile, whether you are criminally unaware of Dane’s pivotal roles leading up to his big blockbuster break or maybe you’re only partially in the loop with what he’s capable of, here’s a quick guide to DeHaan’s career highlights:

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The Attention-Grabbing Cult Role: Jesse D’Amato in HBO’s Drama In Treatment (2010) – Dane plays one of the patients of Gabriel Byrne’s Dr. Paul Weston. Jesse is a troubled teenager who’s adopted but has been contacted by his birth mother and this has turned his already messed up world upside down. He cuts school, sleeps around with older men and constantly acts manipulatively in order to get things his conniving way but clearly harbors an immense fragility that he’s afraid to tackle.

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The Break-Through In Cinema: Andrew Detmer in Josh Trank’s teen scifi extravaganza Chronicle (2012) – When three high school friends find a mysterious hole in the ground and get contaminated with an alien substance, they acquire superpowers but what starts off as fun and games soon turns into disaster. Guess who’s going to become the villain of the trio? You got it. Dane plays the black sheep but manages to evolve into the “baddie” organically and creates a compelling case of the birth of hero vs. villain. No wonder he scored Harry Osborn in Spidey 2.

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The Career-Defining Turn: Lucien Carr in John Krokidas’ brilliant directorial debut Kill Your Darlings (2013) – This vivid portrait of a literary revolution and the birth of the Beat Generation tells the story of how a young Allen Ginsberg met future fellow Beats Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroghs. Dane DeHaan plays the young man who brought them together. Lucien Carr was the enigmatic and ambiguous figure that not only contributed to this famous trio bonding but also was Allen Ginsberg’s first love. Dane is irresistible in this dark role, seducing us from his very first appearance on screen all the way to the cathartic ending and with an unforgettable steamy kiss with Harry Potter himself, Mr. Daniel Radcliffe who plays Ginsberg. The endearing bromance that was born on set between the two stars, with funny stories about Radcliffe hosting Dane and his wife over in his New York apartment has become one of the highlights of last year.

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The Most Anticipated Coming Soon: James Dean in Anton Corbijn’s Life (2015) – What else do you need to know more than Dane playing a Hollywood icon like Dean in a film directed by cult photographer and filmmaker Corbijn? I’m already sold. But for you all needy folks out there this film focuses on an episode in James Dean’s life back when photographer Danny Stock, played by Robert Pattinson, was assigned to shoot some pictures of Dean as his star was rising before East Of Eden. The film chronicles the birth of a meaningful friendship between the two as they traveled from Los Angeles to New York to Indiana. Now tell me you’re not already salivating with excitement!

While waiting for his upcoming films and before rushing to rent his filmography so far, make sure you don’t miss Dane DeHaan’s current exciting turn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, out in cinemas now. I promise this time around you won’t forget his name that easily.

Francesco Cerniglia – Film Editor