Kill Your Darlings tells the story of the beat poets in their Columbia University days. Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) meets Lucien Carr, who introduced him to Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). Along with William Burroughs (Ben Foster), the gang rebels against the University’s traditional literary teachings, including a prank where they filled the library’s display cases with banned books. They also tore out the pages of classic texts and pinned them to the wall.
The film also covers the murder of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) who was stalking Carr. Calling it an honor slaying, which at the time was a defense against people making same sex advances, Carr served a shorter sentence. Dane DeHaan plays Carr in the film. It’s been a big year for DeHaan, cast in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Harry Osborn and in Metallica: Through the Never as the band’s roadie. We sat down with DeHaan in Los Angeles to discuss his latest and upcoming films.
CraveOnline: Was the library prank a real thing that Lou and his gang did?
Dane DeHaan: I think that the library prank is one of the only things in the film that they didn’t actually do. That’s more of a question for [writer/director] John [Krokidas] but I’m pretty sure that that’s something that was taken from John and [co-writer] Austin [Bunn]’s college days.
I Googled some of the things in the movie to find out what was real. I know they did some things involving literature and libraries.
Yeah, the story is fairly accurately portrayed but I think that specific event was something that was more taken from their past.
Was that a fun scene to shoot?
It was so fun. It was crazy. Like everything, we shot it really fast but it was one of the more lighthearted scenes in the movie. It was really fun, and everyone was there.
Is there a certain air you can’t help take on when you’re speaking as Lou?
Sure. I mean, that’s not really how I would put it, but ultimately as an actor, my job is to embody this person. Lou certainly has an air about him, so it’s about finding out why he is that way and what exactly that is that he does, then really making that a part of me whether I’m speaking or not speaking. That’s just my job.
I’m not an actor so it’s harder for me to articulate exactly what you’re doing. I just imagined whether it’s script dialogue or actual historical lines he said, you just can’t help but say it differently than Dane would say it.
Yeah, I think the script is definitely really well written and does a really good job of capturing all these individual people’s voices but also doing that within the context of the time period and how they would actually talk. When you have really great text, it can be a really great tool to use as an actor. There’s certainly a whole ton of other stuff that goes behind creating the character, but the text can also be very helpful if it’s well written.
But you said you wouldn’t put it the way I described it, as an air that comes over you. How would you describe what it takes to play Lou?
I just wouldn’t say it was just the text that gives me what you call an air of Lou. For me, it’s a pretty extensive process of doing a lot of work and research and really trying to form a fully fleshed out human being, and then ultimately it’s just about inhabiting that and believing in it and really doing it. There’s a lot of tools that go into that, not just the lines and the text.