Joining the cast of Columbia Pictures’ new action-adventure “The Amazing Spider-Man” in the pivotal role of Harry Osborn is young actor Dane DeHaan, who has turned heads through his performances in such films as “Chronicle,” “Lawless” and the Bohol-set historical drama “Amigo.”
In this vision for the character, Harry is Peter’s (Andrew Garfield) long-lost friend. “Their fathers had been partners – but when everything went down between Norman Osborn and Richard Parker, and Richard disappeared, Peter and Harry were split. They haven’t talked to each other in a very long time – until now,” DeHaan explains.
After years at boarding school, Harry is called back to New York – to his father’s deathbed. “He thinks his father is going to say ‘I love you, goodbye,’ but instead, it’s very different. Harry finds out he has the same disease that is killing his father, and his father says, basically, ‘Deal with it,’” DeHaan continues.
“That’s when Peter comes back into Harry’s life,” says DeHaan. “At the heart of it, they remember the loving friendship they had as children.”
Harry has grown to be a very different person than Peter has. “My take going in was that Harry was a trust fund baby – a hipster New York kid,” says DeHaan. “That’s a very specific place, a very specific type of person – right down to the way he looks. Harry latches on to his material possessions, because they are the only things that he’s not afraid of showing – he can use this materialistic quality to hide what’s on the inside. [Director] Marc [Webb] was very responsive to that, and then, hearing my ideas, Marc guided me on a specific path to help create Harry.”
That path takes Harry from privileged trust fund kid to the most menacing villain in New York. In taking the reins at Oscorp, Harry – like his father before him – marshals the vast resources of the company in an effort to save his own life. Through his discovery of Oscorp’s secret lair of Special Projects, he comes to believe that Spider-Man’s blood is the answer to all his prayers – and that belief becomes an obsession that eventually leads Harry on a transformation to becoming the Green Goblin.
“Harry Osborn represents a unique Peter Parker/Spider-Man classic conflict,” says producer Avi Arad. “Harry was his best friend, and again, due to circumstances, Harry becomes an enemy who sets out to destroy Spider-Man. What makes it most difficult is Spider-Man is feeling the need to help his friend and stop him from becoming this self-destructive villain.”
“There have been many iterations of the Goblin within the Spider-Man canon,”says DeHaan. “We did the research about how these characters have become the Goblin, what the Goblin was. We had a responsibility to honor the material and to make it our own. Even though we took some liberties, it was of utmost importance to honor the classic elements of the Green Goblin that everyone knows and loves.”
Marc Webb says that in many ways, Peter and Harry face the same choices – only to have very different responses to those choices. “Harry is a foil for Peter,” says Webb. “He’s intelligent like Peter is. Peter and Harry were both abandoned by their fathers, though in different ways – one physically, and the other emotionally. But Harry didn’t have a May and Ben in his life to comfort him and guide him, as Peter did. And because of that, he’s developed a rasher, more abrasive quality. That’s how he endures his life; he’s become a little hardened. They start off as best friends, and end up as mortal enemies, driven apart by jealousy and rage.”
The sense of betrayal that Harry feels becomes very personal after Harry comes to think that Spider-Man’s blood could provide the cure he’s anxious to receive. “But Peter knows that Spider-Man’s blood turned Dr. Curt Connors into the Lizard,” says one of the screenwriters, Jeff Pinkner. “If he were to give Harry the same blood, it might do the same or worse to Harry. Peter desperately wants to do anything he can to help his best friend, but his blood might do something far worse than kill him. Of course, Peter can’t explain all of that to Harry – and even if he could, it’s not clear that Harry would accept that. It’s a real problem for Peter, and ultimately, it leads Harry to unite with Electro.”
“Harry and Electro form a deal over their mutual hatred of Spider-Man,”says screenwriter Alex Kurtzman. “That’s a great moment – two villains who hate the hero, but for different reasons. And it results in Harry turning the full resources of Oscorp against Spider-Man.”
Producer Tolmach says that when casting the role, DeHaan wasn’t necessarily the first name that Webb and the producers dreamt up. “We’d seen Dane in a couple of movies, but we just didn’t know the breadth of his work,” says Tolmach. “But something magical happened. He was wholly original and unique and different. He forced us to see the character in a way we didn’t before – an extraordinary way. We were mesmerized. There’s something about his eyes; he has a searing intensity and there’s enormous heart, but there’s also a lot of pain and room for darkness. That’s Harry Osborn.”
“Dane is a fantastic actor. He looks like no one else,” says Arad. “Those eyes are his. He’s vulnerable; he can show you his journey, or awkwardness, or insanity, or whatever the scene calls for. And he’s a perfect match for Marc Webb, who often directs his actors to let go and show him whatever comes to mind – Dane can go haywire and give you scenes that are very different.”
“It was exciting to be cast as Harry, because it’s such a full, dynamic, crazy arc of a character,” DeHaan concludes. “I knew it was something I could really sink my teeth into.”
DeHaan would spend four hours in makeup and wardrobe to transform into the villain. “The makeup designer, Sarah Rubano, and I developed together a whole evolution of the makeup,” says DeHaan. “It starts from a pimple on my neck and starts to spread to his face –something Harry tries to hide but can’t. And then, once he takes the spider venom in this desperate attempt to save himself, it accelerates the disease to an almost fatal stage – the same stage that Norman Osborn is at when he dies. I wore a few prosthetics – ears and a nose tip – but it was mostly individual sores and wounds that we fairly specifically chose. I also wore teeth and contacts – he has the Goblin’s menacing smile and those big eyes. The shape of my hair pays homage to the purple hood that the Green Goblin wears in the comics.”
Opening across the Philippines on April 30 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D and 2D formats, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.