Author Stephen King has never shied away from embracing the darker side of the connection between creators and their fans, with his novel Misery being one of the most unsettling depictions of the dangers of delusion. With Lisey’s Story, King once again created a disturbing character in Jim Dooley, a fan who won’t let the death of his favorite author stop him from connecting with his legacy by any means necessary. For the Apple TV+ adaptation of the novel, Dane DeHaan embodies that darkness to deliver a chilling depiction of the villain. Lisey’s Story premieres on Apple TV+ on June 4th.
Lisey’s Story is a deeply personal, pensive thriller that follows Lisey Landon (played by Julianne Moore) two years after the death of her husband, famous novelist Scott Landon (played by Clive Owen). A series of unsettling events causes Lisey to face memories of her marriage to Scott that she has deliberately blocked out of her mind. Joan Allen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ron Cephas Jones, and Sung Kang star alongside Moore and Owen.
ComicBook.com caught up with DeHaan to talk his connection to the material, the darker side of fandom, and his superhero future.
ComicBook.com: Before getting involved in the world of Stephen King personally, what was your connection to his stories? Did you have a particular favorite of his?
Dane DeHaan: I think my connection with him is just that he’s written the novel for so many great movies and TV shows and some of the best scary movies of all time. I think that was really my main reference point. Whether it be The Shining or Misery or any of those. Some of my favorite scary movies came from books that he wrote.
Did that then mean that having him personally involved in Lisey’s Story and personally writing the scripts for all the episodes came with an added pressure to honor his characters?
He was nothing but amazing during this entire thing. He was so helpful. He was a great collaborator. He was writing new material for my character as we were going along. To have him involved was amazing. I wasn’t really aware that it was the first time he adapted one of his novels into a screenplay. That’s pretty incredible and I think shows you how much he cares about this. But he’s an incredibly kind person and really a great collaborator, to have him listen and see what we were doing to help bring Dooley to life, as you’ve seen in the show. Obviously, we couldn’t have done it without him, but he was great to work with.
Your character is obsessed with author Scott Landon to a disturbing degree, but is there any creative, like a filmmaker or writer, that you particularly idolize? Maybe not to the point of visiting their childhood home or anything, as Dooley does.
There are certainly artists that I love, but I don’t know that I am so obsessed with them that I would go see their childhood home.
Social media has altered the ways in which fans and creators can interact with one another, do you think those platforms have made the connections between those worlds even stronger, possibly to a dangerous degree, or do those platforms help dissipate that type of infatuation? Rather than obsessing over a celebrity from a distance, being able to see a more intimate glimpse at their personal lives or maybe even getting a reply from them helping break down that distance between a fan and a celebrity?
I love social media. I use it, I enjoy it. I like having a way to interact with my fans and also having control over the parts of my life that I feel are important to share with them. Social media is something that … the responsibility lies with the user, and it’s up to the user to use it for good or evil. And it’s obviously been used in both of those ways, as it has existed. But my personal relationship with social media and my fans is honestly nothing but positive.
Audiences will learn just how disturbing your character is over the course of the series, but there’s a sort of quiet disturbance to him, where he’s not outwardly deranged and could merely be a person with a strange vibe. Was it more challenging to play that restrained disturbance or challenging in the scenes where that unhinged nature comes to the surface?
I don’t know. The challenge of the character was just, honestly, creating the character and taking something that isn’t necessarily in the novel or was even in the screenplay when I read it and creating a character based on what the director’s vision was. And then, ultimately, what Stephen was giving me as new material as we went along.
What we wanted to do was create a character that was terrifying in the context of modern society and fill in parts of him here and there, so that it was fleshed out, but still a bit mysterious. And I think that the reserved nature and almost the neutrality of what a lot of what I do, I think allows … to me, that’s the most interesting and most mysterious part of Dooley, is that you know he’s capable of doing bad things, even though he doesn’t necessarily look like he ever will, if that makes sense. You know it’s deep inside of him, but on the surface, sure, he’s a weird-looking dude, but most of the time, he’s just eating and playing with his yo-yo.
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a yo-yo.
That’s what I’m saying. There’s nothing wrong with a yo-yo. I like yo-yos.
You’ve previously shot down reports about having a role in the new Spider-Man and you having shared your love of playing comic book characters, if you got a phone call tomorrow that you’d get to star in a new superhero project, would you like to return as Harry Osborne to explore the Green Goblin a bit more or have you said what you needed with the character and would want to take on a new franchise?
I would definitely hope to take on a new thing, for sure. What’s exciting to me is always doing new things, and I’m sure something like that will come along again in my life, and I’m excited to see what it is.
And I’m sure your family would love that, to have you be able to give your daughter a toy and tell her that it’s you.
Well, I already do have some toys that I give to my daughter. She has a little Funko Pop! Valerian guy of me that she calls her “dada toy.” And that’s definitely a lot easier to explain than Green Goblin.
I look forward to when you finally show her Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets to her and try to explain just how wild and ambitious Luc Besson’s vision for that franchise was.
That probably won’t happen for a while, but, for sure.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.