Credit: Atsushi Nishijima

Between his breakout role in last year’s Chronicle and his upcoming return to the fantastical in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Dane DeHaan has pulled a 180 with a role in Derek Cianfrance’s gritty, realistic The Place Beyond the Pines. As the film opens wide this weekend, DeHaan talked to EW about playing Ryan Gosling’s on-screen son, shed light on forming his wrong-side-of-the-tracks character, and shared details about the Spidey sequel.

“It’s a movie that kind of lingers, and it’s a movie that will sit deep within you,” DeHaan says of Pines. “I think Derek’s really amazing in capturing real life, and real life kind of just goes on and you don’t know what’s gonna happen next, so I think that’s what happens in the movie.”

For his character Jason, the son of a carnie-turned-bank-robber who also has brushes with the law, that meant portraying some truly regrettable decisions. But DeHaan defends Jason’s actions: “No matter what in life people always do things thinking that it’s the right thing to do at the time… and then in hindsight maybe those things turn out to be huge mistakes, but I don’t think people hardly even go into something thinking they’re doing something that’s wrong or bad or not the right thing to do at the time.” In DeHaan’s mind, the key to Jason was that “he had this part of him that’s missing and that has never been there. He feels out of place, and he feels like there’s something in his blood that’s missing and there’s people that are consciously withholding this information from him and he knows it. So he goes on this quest to find answers.”

DeHaan’s on his own quest since story constraints meant he couldn’t share any scenes with Gosling. “I would love to be in a movie with him where we actually get to work together in the future for sure,” he says. “I have a lot of respect for him and I think he’s one of the best ones out there right now.”

More immediately, though, DeHaan will take over the role of Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man sequel. Though the paps have been furiously flashing bulbs at co-stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Shailene Woodley, and Jamie Foxx, DeHaan says, “I’ve been around. I certainly haven’t been in the center of Times Square yet.”

Though the role of Harry has been fairly well-established in recent memory by James Franco’s 2002-07 portrayal, DeHaan still feels there’s new ground to tread.”Ultimately my job is to portray a living, breathing human being and to act truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Sometimes you know that involves terrorizing an entire city [in Chronicle], sometimes that involves getting intimate with Michael C. Hall [in the upcoming Kill Your Darlings],” and sometimes that involves playing a billionaire scion — though he remained decidedly mum on how his performance would depart from previous iterations except to say, “It’s certainly going be my version.”

As an actor who’s excelled at playing outsiders, we can likely expect DeHaan’s Harry to skew a bit darker. He notes, “Everybody has their own set of circumstances and problems, and I think you know Harry Osborn certainly got a list of problems. Just because he goes home and sleeps in his penthouse at night and has a ton of money doesn’t mean he’s a happy person.”

DeHaan, on the other hand, is relishing the current cinematic wave of geekery stretching from films like Chronicle to the revamp of Spidey and the return of Star Wars (his dad, by the way is a Star Wars nut). Being able to act in this moment is “a dream come true,” he says. “I never would have really pictured it all going this way, but I’m so happy that it has and I’m soaking it all up.”

Read more:

The Place Beyond the Pines
  • Movie
  • 140 minutes