‘A Cure for Wellness’: Dane DeHaan on the “Wild Ride” Thriller

     December 20, 2016

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A couple weeks back, Collider had a chance to see the first 30 minutes of Gore Verbinski’s upcoming thriller A Cure for Wellness, which comes out on February 17, 2017. But we also had time to sit down with the film’s star Dane DeHaan for the following interview.

In the movie, Dane plays a young financial whiz named Lockhart, who is ready to move up the ranks at his company when the partners send him on a mission to retrieve their CEO who has gone to Switzerland to experience a mysterious “cure” involving the waters under a castle. Once there, he has decided not to return but they need Lockhart to bring him back so they can sell the company. Once Lockhart gets to the castle, he finds out that nothing is what it seems, and there is no WIFI or other electronic contact with the outside world. As he tries to go down to the village below the castle to contact his bosses, he ends up in a bad car crash where he breaks his leg, leaving him stranded at the castle for longer than he expected.

That is pretty much the set-up for a movie that promises to get weirder and weirder the long Lockhart remains at the castle, and we can see from the latest trailer that DeHaan was really put through a lot for the role.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

Collider: When I spoke with Gore about the movie, he said that he saw you in Place Beyond the Pines and really wanted to do something with you and then decided that you should play Lockhart in the movie, so how did you first hear about this and what did he tell you about the movie when you met him? Or did he just send you the script?

DANE DEHAAN: It was a meeting. I went to L.A. to meet with him and I went to his offices and he had already been working on it a lot and he had a lot of the visuals and kind of inspirational visual pictures and stuff and talked about it to me and kind of talked about his ambitions with it and then sent me away with the script to read. So that was kind of my introduction to it.

When I first heard about this movie and the title A Cure for Wellness, I thought maybe it was based on a book, because that title is so evocative of a novel, like a self-help book or something. 

DEHAAN: Sure, yeah. 

What were your impressions of it when you were reading the script? Were you thinking things like, “How are we going to do this, and how is this going to work?”

DEHAAN: For sure, I mean it’s a crazy script, it’s really crazy a lot happens and it’s super ambitious but I had seen The Ring. I trusted Gore could at least, had a good chance of pulling off what he was trying to pull off, but it’s certainly a wild ride for sure and that was definitely evident from reading the script.

You said he had some visuals so did he have concept art because he obviously did a lot on location?

DEHAAN: Yeah, he had like concept art I think and a lot of moody pictures of bodies floating in water and eels and old medical equipment and just like really all over his walls of Blind Wink (Gore’s production company), at that point.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

I feel like the movie plays with a lot of our fears, even the fear of being incarcerated in a place like this against our will. Where you’re trapped somewhere and it starts playing with those fears.

DEHAAN: Yeah, totally, and just like that hint of doubt you have when you’re doing like any kind of treatment or like I haven’t been able to go to a spa since and not like think of it very differently about it, because of this movie.

So once you started getting into filming, did he try to go easy on you at first and save some of the crazier stuff like the car rolling down the hill for later?

DEHAAN: We definitely started in the office, more towards in the beginning of the film, the first week at least was that, but a lot of it just had to do with locations and when those locations were available, you know? Also, the way Gore shoots, like the car crash was probably shot in bits and pieces over the five months of shooting. Based on where we were and what he needed to assemble that sequence. And like that’s one of the things that’s so amazing about Gore is that he has such a visual cinematic mind that he knows exactly how he wants it to look. That a sequence like a car crash he will break up into like several shots over the many months of shooting in order to be able to piece it together the way he needs to.

So he’ll just shoot some stuff with you, he’ll be editing and then you’ll shoot more stuff for those scenes?

DEHAAN: I don’t think he edits, but he has such a cinematic mind that I think he can almost self edit in his mind, so he’ll be like “Okay now we’re here, we’re at the castle so these are the bits of car crash I need and now we’re here so these are the bits of the car crash we need and now I have the rig where the car is on like a rotisserie so this is the bit of the car crash I need” and you know he really understands how he’s going to edit but he doesn’t edit as he’s going along. I think he takes a lot of time to edit after he shoots.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

When we spoke last night, I thought of your character similar to Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock’s Rear Window in some ways, because your character is somewhat likeable despite coming from that world of finance, and compared to the other people on the board, he actually seems nice, if that’s even possible. Although you know he dreams of becoming like them… 

DEHAAN: Yeah, well, it’s really an interesting crazy world where like ultimately you have to work your ass off and sacrifice a lot in your life and the end goal is personal and financial gain. You know, it’s not like you’re doing anything helpful to the world. You’re really just trying to get ahead and to beat out the next person and to be on top and at the very top of those financial firms, like the people that make the crazy amounts of money I mean that’s what their after. So I think that is a huge clue into who Lockhart is and I think why he’s such a good hero for this kind of movie.

Gore is also a pretty interesting. I’ve spoken to him a few times over the years, but like he’s not your typical filmmaker. He’s fairly mellow and quiet, and you can tell there’s always something going on in his head, he’s always thinking about stuff.

DEHAAN: Yeah, for sure.

How was it to work with him on set and doing a movie like this where it’s sort of like, a lot of things you might not even know what’s going on or what’s going to happen after you leave or what’s going to be done to the … you know the effects and stuff like that? 

DEHAAN: Well, I mean I pretty much knew. He’s very specific and he’s communicates very clearly and he knows what he wants and I was in communication with him the whole time. You know, like the whole thing really was a collaboration. We spent time before we shot to go through the script to kind of tackle any issues or questions and on the day, he’s by all means the captain of the ship. I think we had a mutual respect for one another and it was a collaboration, but he is a very, very specific person and he communicates very clearly what he wants and needs.

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