James Dehaan: Teen Superpower Gone Amok in ‘Chronicle’!

Three ordinary teenagers suddenly become powerful after a night in the woods upon close encounter with an unidentified underground phenomenon in Chronicle.

“Chronicle” is as real as it gets introducing the audience to Andrew (James Dehaan), Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) – recognizable teens, each with a distinctive personality and each facing relatable challenges that come with being in high school, forming new friendships, and exploring new facets of their ever-changing lives. They’re imperfect, awkward, and a little reckless.

Their discovery leads them to acquire powerful telekinetic abilities; in graphic novel parlance, they have superpowers. They’re now capable of, well, almost anything. They can move objects just by thinking about them, crush cars through force of will. They learn to fly…the ultimate wish fulfillment. Then things get dark.

One of these teens could be you or could be amongst those close to us or our acquaintances. James DeHaan unleashes a powerful creeping performance as one of the lead stars in “Chronicle” and explains further his character, Andrew.

Q: Can you tell us about your character?

A: Andrew is a poor kid who comes from a rough family background. His mom is really sick and his dad is on disability from being a firefighter so for him, things are really tough. But his circumstances extend to other areas of his life as well. He is, by all means, a loser in school and not just a kid who goes under the radar, but the kind of kid that people really go out of their way to make fun of and bully. In that way he’s a victim.

Q: Do you think he struggles with the responsibility of the power?

A: Yes, but it’s not a case of “How responsible am I going to be with this power?” I think he just really enjoys having power, messing around and finally having friends. It does, in the end, overtake him.

Q: Is it more fun to play a character that is conflicted?

A: It’s always fun to play a complicated character, definitely. It’s not always fun to go to dark places, but it’s always fun to play a character who has such an extreme arc, who goes through so much. I don’t think I’ve ever played a character like him.

Q: How was the dynamic with the other actors?

A: It’s good. I always try to form some sort of relationship with the people I work with that mimics the relationship I have with them in the movie. I think we did a pretty good job of that. Michael, Alex and I have all become pretty close and friendly; we all have our inside jokes and we can poke fun at each other. We can hang out and have a good time. Doing that in our personal lives away from work has definitely had a positive influence on the movie.

Q: It’s a strange mix of a big action movie with the sensibilities of a character piece.

A: Yes, I think the movie does an incredibly good job of taking the concept, somebody getting superpowers, and dealing with that in a very realistic way. If a group of teens in real life actually got superpowers they would mess around with it, see how much fun they could have with it and eventually it would probably all spin out of control because they’ve been given way too much power. I think the reality of it is what truly drew me in.

Q: What’s it been like working with your director, Josh Trank, in his first film?

A: It was my first time working with a first time director. There is definitely an excitement and energy that goes along with that. I think that one of the cool things about the project is that we’re all around the same age in real life. All of us are still beginning our careers in many ways. Even though all of the actors have done other movies and TV shows we still have a youthful, “go get ’em,” attitude. Josh matches that. In many ways he’s much more of a peer than any other director. He’s going through it for the first time, like us. There’s definitely an excitement to that.

Q: There’s a really interesting shooting style to the film, with the characters filming all of the scenes – how has that been to work with?

A: It’s great. It’s another reason why the film is so inventive. It’s found a way to do this kind of handheld stuff but used the reality of the circumstances to make it less dizzying and less gritty. It’s really interesting how every camera movement in the movie is really motivated and grounded in reality, as much as the plot and the characters and all the other elements.

Intense till the end, “Chronicle” opens February 2 in theaters (108) nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

‘Chronicle’ concieved in YouTube era!

There’s a new kind of high in the movie among three best friends Andrew, Matt and Steve set in a very familiar American landscape – high school students in a campus where each fraction of a teen either make themselves seen or invisible. Directed by first time feature film director Josh Trank, James Dehaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan play the lead roles in this edgy teen movie where they pit on each other’s newly acquired superpowers.

Andrew (Dehaan) coming from a poor family with a rough background has always been the subject of bullying, Matt (Russell) is Andrew’s cousin in his senior year and has applied a nihilistic approach through his high school years and Steve (Jordan) is the most popular guy in their school whose congenial personality made him friends with even the most introvert kid in the campus. Together, they bonded in one wild night of partying when they discovered something unnatural in the woods. Naturally brash, they head deep down into the strange phenomenon to get up close – Andrew, who recently decided to document each day of his life brings his camera underground to record.

Upon close encounter, the three became frantic and suddenly the only light coming from Andrew’s camera went kaput. After surviving a deafening silence in darkness, days after the unexplained, the three became almost inseparable testing their newfound powers. It presented Andrew a plethora of opportunities to get even to those who’ve hurt and insulted him. Unbeknownst to Matt and Steve, Andrew is becoming stronger than them focusing on harnessing his power each day.

As Andrew’s motives becomes apparent, Matt and Steve try to help him cope with power and anger. Reinventing a whole new approach between (teen) hero and antagonist, Josh Trank presents “Chronicle” throwing out any preconceptions on superhero movie by starting afresh with a core group of well-realized characters. “I didn’t want to be too obsessed with making an homage or in making the movie a certain way,” Trank explains. “The whole mantra of “Chronicle” is just to go the opposite and make it as relatable as possible. Max and I, in characterizing these kids, wanted to make sure they were as normal and close to us as possible, but set them in middle class suburbia.”

The style of shooting helps make the tale all the more relatable. “The bar is that it has to feel real,” argues executive producer Dodson. “It has to feel like we were on YouTube, we were surfing around and we found a video – that this real thing happened and some cameraman caught it.” But Trank was keen not to deliver another nausea-inducing shaky-cam experience to his audience.

In the era of YouTube, the idea of teens documenting every aspect of their lives on videotape is no longer unprecedented. As good quality cameras get ever cheaper and the ability to upload and share footage with friends gets ever easier, young people are increasingly sharing their experiences with one another through a visual medium.

Says DeHaan: “I think a lot of scenes in this movie could become viral hits if they were just two minutes on YouTube. But they’ve taken all these moments and made a very thorough narrative out of them. It really does blend the modern question of what’s become of video with the old-school superhero film.”

“This generation in high school is the most self-photographed generation ever because every single person has a camera on them now,” says Trank. “It’s exciting because we can create this new style of shooting things – fictional stories about people – without having to do it in the way everybody’s been doing it for the last hundred years.”

Uncontrolled teen powers unleash when “Chronicle” opens in cinemas on February 2 nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

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