Jamie Foxx is a polished show-biz veteran with both an Oscar and his own TV show to his name. Dane DeHaan first made a splash with the HBO series In Treatment, but became well-known to comic book lovers for his role as a troubled teen with superpowers in Chronicle. They both play iconic foes of everyone’s favorite wall-crawler in The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Foxx the misunderstood Electro and DeHaan a revamped version of The Green Goblin. They both sat down to talk about their parts in a recent press conference for the film.
Question: What’s it like for you guys to watch the final results of these movies, having done your part without the effects or post work?
Dane DeHaan: It’s the coolest thing ever. The first trilogy was coming out when I was a kid and I’ve always loved Spider-Man movies. To be a part of one is kind of a mind-blowing experience. And seeing it when it’s done, seeing how cool they can make us look in post, it’s kind of hard to comprehend.
Jamie Foxx: It’s weird. People don’t know that it’s actually me in a kind of blue silicone skin. Imagine me dipped in blue candle wax. The blue becomes a blue screen, like it would be with a CG screen, and the effects get added on top of that. Towards the end, it gets a little more CG heavy, but most of the time, it’s me or my stunt double in an actual blue suit.
Q: Did performing in all of that affect your gestures and your mannerisms? How did you have to alter your performance?
JF: Marc Webb and all of the guys who do the CGI were standing around telling you, “Now turn this way, and roar. ROAR!!!” They have you do different poses and such. But it’s like how we start out as kids acting in the mirror. It’s that muscle that you’ve used since you first had that spark, that desire to act.
Q: Did you study electricity? Did you look into how it works and the way it reacts and such?
JF: I go the opposite way. I study other people. I looked at Amadeus a lot. Salieri is jealous and covetous, and that’s basically what Maxwell is. He covets. He doesn’t hate Spider-Man. He just wants people to look at him the way they look at Spidey. I watched Clint Eastwood to get the voice where it needs to be, that low menace. I study performances like that, just for the actual mechanics of the character.
Q: How about you Dane?
DDH: Well, my character suffers from a made-up disease. Retro-viral hyperplasia is infectious and degenerative, and that just doesn’t exist. There’s no such thing as that in the world. I looked into how it might be categorized and what symptoms it might exhibit, but it’s fictional. There’s nothing really like it.
Q: What is it about Spider-Man that so many people find so attractive? He really is beloved, even in a way that other superheroes aren’t.
JF: It’s like Coca-Cola or Nike. I asked my daughter about it when I first got the part and she said, “You have to do it. All the other kids are going to see it. You have to do it.” And I think also that he’s the only super hero in high school. He’s a kid. And you see kids wanting to see Spider-Man because of that, and parents comfortable taking kids to see Spider-Man where they might not with a more grown-up superhero story.
Q: You grew up on Spider-Man.
JF: Yeah, The Electric Company! Did you see The Electric Company, with Morgan Freeman? Spidey was all over that!
Q: What are some of your memories of that time?
JF: There were only three networks at that time, plus PBS made a fourth. But to see a superhero on TV was crazy! You only saw each show once. You didn’t have YouTube or anything like that, so when Spidey came on, you came running! Back then, I thought “how did they DO those crazy web effects?” Now you know that it’s just a pile or ropes, but that was the first time you saw a superhero who wasn’t animated and who seemed to live and breathe.
Q: How does it feel to be the first African-American playing a supervillain in one of these films?
JF: You know, you’re only to second person to ask me that question. You and the other African-American reporter out front. When you eat pizza, do you say “Mmmmm, I’m eating this Italian pizza!” You don’t, because you don’t think about it. I said, “One day, I want the artistic world to be just like eating pizza.” You don’t even think about it anymore, you just watch your favorite actor and actress get down and do their thing. I’ve been on BET promoting this film, we’ve gone around the world promoting it, and we never get that question. We’re not eating Italian pizza anymore. It’s just pizza! We’re getting to that point where it’s just about the talent.
Still, it feels good to be an African-American and get these kinds of parts.
Q: Harry Osborn is a character who goes from good to bad very quickly, to the point where I thought he started out kind of bad. Was that part of your choice as an actor?
DDH: It was always that he was Harry at the beginning and the Goblin at the end. Harry is born into extreme wealth and power. He’s literally the richest kid in the world. He’s always been able to buy everything he wants. In that way, he has no problems. He can buy his own happiness. Then he’s told, “you’re dying,” and all of a sudden there’s no solution to that problem. He can’t buy his life. And in some way, I see his turning into the Goblin as this giant temper tantrum. That’s where the anger comes from, and that’s why his descent feels so accelerated.
Q: What was your hardest scene?
DDH: The final battle between me and Spider-Man was pretty challenging. That set was 100 degrees at least, and I had a 50-pound suit. They were pouring ice water down my suit and it was turning to steam. That was physically challenging. But you know, the whole role is a challenge.
JF: My hardest scene was actually the scene where I wasn’t moving, where I was trapped in that array at Ravencroft. You can’t get out of that for hours, and even if you could, it takes 35-40 minutes to do it. So you gotta decompress before you get into the contraption. The first day, I was fine. I got through it. But then on the second day, I had an itch up here, and you can’t get to that. So you can feel the panic setting in. You can feel your mind wandering, wondering what might happen if something goes wrong. But we had a great stunt team and those guys are just fantastic at what they do. So it was me worrying about character things more than my safety or security.