Spider-Man’s greatest battle is set to begin this week with the release of Amazing Spider-Man 2, and actors Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan spoke to reporters about their villainous ways during a press junket on Sunday.
“I think one thing this franchise does is it allows the villains to be human and to get some sympathy, and I think we’ve seen people leaving the theater, and they’re not just Spider-Man fans — there’s Electro fans and there’s Goblin fans, and that’s exciting,” said DeHaan, who plays Harry Osborn, Peter Parker’s childhood friend turned deadly nemesis. “And I think that’s because Marc and everyone was so careful to set up these stories as Harry and Max are good people, and life gets in the way, and eventually they turn bad.”
While DeHaan said he joined the franchise for the complexity and challenge of the characters, Foxx said he had an even stronger motivation to join the Spider-Man universe — his four-year-old.
“My daughter was in a Spider-Man bouncy house when I got that call,” Foxx recalled. “She goes, ‘what are you going to do in Spider-Man?’ and I said, ‘I’m going to play a bad guy, I’m going to play Electro.’ And she said, ‘Spider-Man’s going to kick your butt.’”
The actors added that there was a lot of dramatic meat for them to dig into, with the villains requiring a very nuanced approach.
“What’s great in the acting department is the fact that you get to play two characters,” Foxx said. You get the chance to have a bit of an arc, because you start off as Max — you want people to empathize with Max — and then you turn into Electro… just to be able to have that acting muscle flexed within this popcorn-friendly film was great.”
DeHaan explained that Harry’s history with Peter made him a complex foil for the character.
“I think Harry and Peter are both dealing with, in different ways, being abandoned by their parents… And then it’s just about seeing what they’ve done with their lives since,” he said. “Peter made good choices and responsible choices and the right choices and turned out to be the hero; Harry makes more questionable and destructive choices, and he turns into a bad guy.”
Both actors also had a lot of input to their visual components. Foxx and his sister Deirdra came to the producers with some very specific designs for the character of Max Dillon.
“My sister does my hair, and I said, ‘I want to be the first black man with a combover.’ I want to get the teeth and everything,” Foxx said. “It’s kind of a throwback to my days on In Living Color, the sketch comedy days, which I’m kind of looking forward to getting back to, playing different characters.”
DeHaan, meanwhile, said he bucked the trends of actors “slicking their hair back and wearing suits” by bringing Harry into the modern day as a “hipster trust fund baby.”
But to solidify the grotesque look of the Green Goblin himself, DeHaan made a secret trip to New Zealand to work with Weta Workshop, which became famous for working on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. He excitedly recalled how he worked with the Workshop to come up with ways to attack Harry’s vanity as the Goblin’s skin began to take on its sickly complexion.
“I was like, ‘can you make a pimple that would pop?’ And they were like, ‘just give us 15 minutes!’” laughed DeHaan. “In 15 minutes, the workshop had come up with a pimple that pops on my neck, and it was, like, the coolest, grossest thing. I just had so much fun down there —literally having a workshop about Harry and the Goblin. And the people there —they can do anything. It was amazing.”
But the duo agreed that there were benefits to being the bad guy.
“Jack Nicholson made it fly. Heath Ledger made it cool and won an Oscar. Now people want to play the villains,” Foxx said. “Now the appetite is set, because you’ve seen great performances by villains — now a villain movie makes sense. The way people are responding to the villains, it’s like WWE. It’s like watching wrestling — you love to boo the villain.”
“It’s just, like, the coolest thing ever,” agreed DeHaan, recalling when he first saw himself in the finalized Green Goblin makeup. “I was in the suit, and there was this camera test, and it was such a cool feeling to be able to look in the mirror and say — ‘Holy s—t, I’m the Green Goblin!’ You know, there’s nothing not exciting about that moment.”
As far as future Sinister Six recruits, the Spider-villains were tight-lipped when asked who they would want to see round out their ranks.
“I think Venom definitely would be good to have on your side — not against you,” DeHaan said. “It’s cool to see how the technology of Oscorp is influencing the villains and what they’re looking like. I can’t wait to see who else comes into this universe, and I also can’t wait to see who they have play them. At this point, it’s just as exciting an idea for me as it is for you.”
Foxx, meanwhile, pleaded the Fifth. “I’ll have to wait and see. Name too many names, I get left off the list,” he joked. “Then there’s going to be some real Electro s—t going down.”