Dane DeHaan on his “visceral, raw and gritty” mob epic ‘ZeroZeroZero’

Far from the aliens and superheroes of his past, the Green Goblin actor's latest is an unmissable crime thriller

Dane DeHaan has played the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the title character in Luc Besson’s space opera Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and a super-powered, troubled teenager in Chronicle. With Sky’s new drama, ZeroZeroZero, he’s ditched the sci-fi that made his name for something a little grittier.

Soundtracked by Scottish prog-rockers Mogwai and featuring an impressive international cast, the eight-part crime epic tells the story of the Lynwoods, a powerful shipping clan whose fortune was built in the cocaine trade. We meet corrupt soldiers in the Mexican army, members of Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta syndicate, and the ordinary people whose labour keeps the wheels turning. It’s a bloody struggle for power that sees many lives destroyed forever. The only pure thing here is the coke: a high-grade white powder that gives the series its title.

We caught up with Dane to learn more about the ambitious miniseries and how it’s changed his views on a brutal global trade.

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What did ‘ZeroZeroZero’ teach you about the global coke racket?

“I didn’t know anything about the cocaine industry, so it was all new to me. It makes sense to me that to get $60 million dollars’ worth of cocaine from one continent to another it involves a lot of different people! But to think about it in terms of being part of the world’s economy and something that is never gonna go away – almost like a necessary evil – that take was brand new to me.”

Tell us about your character…

“My character, Chris Lynwood, has Huntington’s disease: it’s a genetic, degenerative disease that you can only get if one of your parents has it. It’s a disease that he watched his mother die from, and eventually that’s how he’s going to die. He becomes very involved in this giant shipment of cocaine and trying to get it from one place to another, across an ocean. In a lot of ways, it’s about everything that can go wrong [in that process], but he also has this obstacle of Huntingdon’s disease beginning to show symptoms – and the physical and psychological aspects of that inform his decisions throughout the show.”

Dane DeHaan
As drug trafficker Chris in ‘ZeroZeroZero’. Credit: Sky

You got to work with Andrea Riseborough on this one – what was that like?

“She plays my sister – she’s very much the strong one of the family. She’s healthy, intelligent, and very driven. She’s being groomed to take over the family business. My character has been kept in a bubble his whole life and protected, because everyone knows he’s going to eventually die of this disease, and he’s treated like a really fragile bird, even though he doesn’t feel like one. As much as he looks up to his sister, he’s also incredibly jealous of her, and wants to be involved in the family business. In the show, you see him get that opportunity for the first time.”

‘ZeroZeroZero’ is based on a non-fiction book by Italian author Roberto Saviano. He’s faced death threats from the Camorra crime network for his writing. Did you get to meet him?

“Our goal was to make something as real as we could – as visceral and raw and gritty a show as possible. I think it certainly helps that the source material was a very real and dangerous look into this world. Luckily, the book did a lot of the dangerous research for us, and we were able to bring it to life. I met Saviano at our premiere in Venice, and I shook his hand, but it felt best to keep my distance. He was surrounded by, like, five armed guards! That was something I didn’t necessarily want to be involved with.”

A lot of the show is set in New Orleans. Did you enjoy filming there?

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“New Orleans was fun. We were there on St Patrick’s Day. The food is just ridiculous – it’s so good. They have a very established film infrastructure, they’ve got great crews. It’s just a great city to film in, and I’d love to go back and make something there again.”

‘ZeroZeroZero’ debuts on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV at 9pm this evening (February 4)

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