Undoubtedly one of the more thought-provoking horror movies to receive a major studio push in quite some time, Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness arrives in theaters this weekend courtesy of 20th Century Fox. The film follows Dane DeHaan’s character Lockhart as he arrives at a wellness retreat in Switzerland to retrieve the CEO of the financial firm he works for, only to find himself unable to leave after getting mixed up in the mysteries of the facility.
Daily Dead, along with several other journalists, recently had the chance to speak with DeHaan at the press day for A Cure for Wellness. The actor discussed the physical and psychological challenges that he tackled throughout production, as well as his experiences collaborating with Verbinski and his co-star Mia Goth.
It seems like Gore really put you through your paces on this film. Can you discuss which scenes might have been more challenging for you, and how you were able to handle shooting some of the film’s more horrific moments, which generally involved you undergoing some kind of torture?
Dane DeHaan: Well, there were a lot that were very challenging, especially the deprivation tank, which was probably the hardest sequence I had to do on this movie. I was wearing this harness that had these cables attached to it, and [they] were then bolted to the side of the tank to keep my body horizontal in the water. I could only breathe through this tube and had to communicate with everyone via hand signals. Gore had underwater speakers in there, too, so I could hear him.
We had rehearsals to make sure these scenes weren’t dangerous, but there was one time when I was in the tank where things did get dangerous. There was this scene where you see the tank filling up with water, and Gore wanted to get the shot where you see it continually rising. I don’t think we had really rehearsed that shot particularly, and I’m strapped in there with these cables, and the water rising feels like that pressure you feel whenever you’re diving underwater. So I feel this pressure building inside my body, but I couldn’t equalize it or anything, so I took it for as long as I could, but I finally had to make the hand signal to try and stop the shot. And I hear Gore on the underwater speaker going, “Hey, is he okay? He’s making a weird gesture with his hand.”
That’s when the diver dove in and cut my cables so he could get me the hell out of there. That was the craziest it got. And we worked on that scene for a long time, to the point where I don’t think I was dry for two weeks.
The dentist scene was also a really tough scene to do, psychologically speaking. That one really f---ked with me mentally. They all presented their challenges, but that’s what made them so much fun. Maybe it’s not the textbook definition of fun, but that’s stuff that’s fun to me.
A few years ago, you starred in Metallica’s Through the Never, and you’ve made some other very interesting choices in your career as well. Now, A Cure for Wellness is another very avant-garde project and I was curious if there was something in particular about taking on these non-traditional projects that appeals to you as an actor?
Dane DeHaan: I don’t really think about how these things will work out from a visual perspective, but I tend to gravitate towards projects that have an originality to them. Originality is what gets me excited. The Metallica movie was definitely an original idea and an absolutely cool idea and experience that I wouldn’t have said “no” to. And this movie, it reeked of originality, it was unlike anything I had read before, and I loved how crazy and wild and terrifying it was. It’s not a movie I would have done with just any director, but I knew Gore could pull it off.
And Gore is a really slow and methodical director; we had five months to shoot this movie. The visuals he was able to capture were pretty amazing. This project was a big collaboration between him and me, and he was always open to my opinion on the character and all that kind of stuff. But, he also had a very clear vision for what he wanted this movie to be, so it was my responsibility to make sure I delivered what he needed, too.
How was it working with Mia on this project?
Dane DeHaan: It was great. We had something like two weeks of rehearsals together and that was great to be able to have that kind of time. She’s incredibly talented, though, and she’s so well-cast in this movie, too. Her performance is so organic, so when you’re in those moments where you’re acting with her, she’s so present, and reacting, and listening to everything that you’re doing. In a way, that’s all you can ask for in an acting partner.
In case you missed it, check out our previous coverage of A Cure for Wellness: