No sooner had Dane DeHaan started acting onscreen than the industry dubbed him “the next Leonardo DiCaprio.” Then, when he played Jesse, a complicated and deeply conflicted gay teen on HBO’s “In Treatment,” the biz decided they’d figured him out: This was his “Basketball Diaries” — DiCaprio with edge.
“People are always trying to categorize new actors in terms of ‘What’s the throughline in all their work?’ and ‘How does this person fit into the cosmos?’ ” DeHaan says. “Ultimately, what I would like to prove is that I’m an actor, and I’m capable of doing all kinds of different roles.”
DeHaan may have played it dark in found-footage superhero thriller “Chronicle” (which no doubt led to his being cast as Harry Osborne in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”), but that part is totally different from his harmless young moonshiner in “Lawless” or his turn as Ryan Gosling’s seething son from “The Place Beyond the Pines.”
So far, DeHaan has shown his greatest versatility onstage. After exhausting the local scene in hometown Allentown, Pa., he studied acting at North Carolina School of the Arts, then moved to New York, where he did David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” on Broadway and won an Obie for “The Aliens.”
“It’s very hard for an actor to just be an actor,” says DeHaan, who gravitates toward roles that frighten him — like Lucien Carr in “Kill Your Darlings.” Daniel Radcliffe was attached as the young Allen Ginsberg, and DeHaan was the second person cast in what became an amazing opportunity to work with some of his idols.
“It’s a really great script, and the part was incredibly complex and challenging and had certain elements that I hadn’t really tackled before, including this extroverted sexual energy,” says DeHaan, who’s always looking for the next part “that takes me out of my comfort zone and helps me grow.”