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Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan are villains in 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'

Jamie Foxx and Andrew Garfield
Jamie Foxx and Andrew GarfieldColumbia Pictures

In “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” Peter Parker/Spider-Man (played by Andrew Garfield) battles three villains: Electro (played by Jamie Foxx, who also plays Electro's alter ego Max Dillon), the Green Goblin (played by Dane DeHaan, who also plays Green Goblin’s alter ego Harry Osborn) and the Rhino (played by Paul Giamatti, who also plays the Rhino's alter ego Aleksei Sytsevich). There is also turmoil for the web-slinging superhero in his personal life: Peter has an on-again/off-again relationship with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone), and he finds out some family secrets that involve his missing parents. Here is what Foxx and DeHaan said when I caught up with them at the New York City press junket for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."

Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan at the New York City press junket for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"
Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan at the New York City press junket for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"Carla Hay

Jamie, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is the first superhero movie that you've done. Why did you decide that this movie would be your superhero movie?

Foxx: Fame fatigue. What I mean by that is any time I get a chance to disappear in some type of character, it's great to do, because we bombard people with our image every single day on Twitter or Instagram. To be a black man with a combover and with a gap in the teeth, it was like going back to my "In Living Color" days.

It really showed Max as broken and reaching out, even though the character is broad, he still has feelings. When he sees Spider-Man, it does something to him. When he turns into Electro, he's just really hurt more than he is [angry]. He's just let down, as a fan.

I understand the fanatic thing too. I was in Philly shooting a movie. And I get a knock on my door, in my condo. And I open it, and there's a guy there saying, "Hey, Jamie. Beyoncé told me to check on you." I was like, "What?"

He said, "Beyoncé told me to come check on you. Can I just come in?" And I had to slam the door on the guy and call security. I was like, "Wow, that's crazy!" I wanted to take that sort of fanatic in Max as well.

Jamie, what is it about "The Amazing Spider-Man" that would appeal to a faith-based or spiritual audience?

Foxx: You know what's great about this? Sony specifically took out certain parts of the movie, so that it would be family-friendly, by dialing down a little bit of the violence. My daughter was on the set of "Django [Unchained]." She's not naive at all. But other kids [are]. On purpose, we made sure there were things taken out of it.

I saw kids who are 5, 6, 7, 8 years old, all over the world. The whole family can be safe and comfortable that they can watch something that they don't have to explain too much to their kids. If anything, you explain why Spider-Man is necessary, because Spider-Man is still in high school. He's doing the right thing, he's about hope, he's friendly.

Those are the ingredients that I think anyone can get on board with. My daughter who's 5, we were at this high school, and I had her spell "Spider-Man." And then I said, "Name the books of the Bible." And she [named them all].

So I said, "If my daughter is on the set, then any kid [can enjoy the movie]." My daughter is well-versed when it comes to religion. We don't ncessarily wear it on our shirt, but she's entrenched in that.

Max Dillon/Electro and Harry Osborn/Green Goblin both feel abandoned, and they both want to feel like they matter. Between the two of you, who had it rougher with their villan costumes and makeup and the visual effects you had to do for this movie?

DeHaan: They're different things. Jamie is covered head-to-toe in prosthetics, so he doesn't have any pores on his body that are breathing. I've done that before. It's a psychological mind trip. You have to keep telling yourself, "I'm not dying."

But my [Green Goblin] suit was heavier. It was 50 pounds. And it took an hour to get into. We always get asked how hard it is to be these bad guys and how much time it takes.

But also, who cares? We get to be Electro! We get to be Green Goblin! That's what's exciting.

Even when Jamie was in all those prosthetics, he was never complaining. We were always just having a good time and doing our jobs and having a great time being these characters.

Actors who've played villains have said that when they're in full costume and makeup, sometimes the crew acts a little scared of them. Did that happen to either of you?

Foxx: I think my sister [was disturbed by] Electro's eyes. She was like, "Don't look at me with all that. Please!" But my daughter walked up and touched it.

But I think our characters, even in the "Spider-Man" franchise, the villains aren't always the most angry or the most villainous. They're confused, and they've been misunderstood. But then you never know. If we were to come back, I think we would get a little more sinister.

Can you talk about the physical stunts that you did for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"?

DeHaan: We all spent time on wires. I spent time in the glider. That stuff is fun too. It can be hard. The final fight between me and Spider-Man, that set was 110 degrees. I was wearing a 50-pound suit, and they were dumping buckets of ice water down my suit in between takes.

And by the time they called "action," that water was boiling or it turned to steam. The wire work is a part of it. I don't really know what to say, other than it's just a part of it. It's fun.

Foxx: I dealt with water in a different way. I didn't actually get shot with the water, but when it was 21 degrees in New York, I had to lie on the ground while they poured water on me. That was tough, if there is a tough, but under than that, I had a good time.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" director Marc Webb said that you had to film some of the Times Square scenes guerilla-style. What was that like?

Foxx: The people didn't care. They were like, "Yo, Jamie, what up? I've got this mix tape, my man! You hit me up, hashtag this!" New York is great, because it's real. If something was happening that was crazy in New York, you get that real energy, which was really cool.

When I was Max on the street, it was a different thing. Girls were like, "Look at Jamie Foxx. Look at his hair. Something is off with him today." It was all good. New York is actually a character in the movie, which I think is great for the franchise, which is great for us as Hollywood shooting in America, shooting in New York. That's the way the should be. New York is tough.

Dane, you were promoting "The Place Beyond the Pines," you were filming "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" and you said there were some similarities the outsider characters you play in both movies. Did you have any room for improvisation in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"?

DeHaan: Marc is always open to improv'ing. On a movie like this, you have time to do it. I feel like we always get the script, but outside of that, you can play around, depending what the scene is and who you're acting with, I think there's more or less improv. I probably did more with Andrew than with anyone else.

They are different experiences, but, in terms of the job, my job remains the same. I'm still an actor. I still do similar work. It can be a different movie, but in terms of my job, it becomes similar. Marc has a way of making a big set feel very intimate. I think that's one of his strong suits.

In "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," we see that government and big corporations aren't necessarily doing what's good for the people. Can you talk about the concept of Oscorp as another villain in the movie?

Foxx: What we wanted to portray with Max was to be betrayed by love, family and job. And when Oscorp takes his ideas, you can mirror any corporation that has that same sort of DNA. It really breaks him, like, "I've given all I can to this place, and now they turn on me." So there was a little bit of that that he used as motivation when he turned into Electro.

DeHaan: Oscorp is obviously where all villains are generating from within this "Amazing Spider-Man" universe. Oscorp is probably the biggest technological corporation within the "Spider-Man" universe as well. I think what you see is that they're not using their technology and resources to do good.

They're investing a lot in modern warfare technology and things that become very internal and secretive and even genetic manipulation. And ultimately, it's being used for evil. It's not being used to help the world.

And in this part of the story, I [as Harry Osborn/the Green Goblin] am just using it for myself, to save my own life. And I'm using the $200 billion that are at my disposal and just hopping into my modern warfare suit and flying around. And I think in the future, I think Oscorp will play a really big role in generating the evil and the bad guys in the universe.

You have been promoting "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" all over the world. What has that experience been like for you? Can you describe the reaction to Spider-Man in countries where English is not the native language?

DeHaan: I couldn't go to Asia, but I did go to Europe. It's just amazing, the amount of love that there is for Spider-Man, no matter where we are and no matter what language people speak. Even when we were in London, there were people who had flown in from China, just to be at the world premiere. It's so incredible what the impact a film like this has around the world.

And what's been really incredible is seeing the positive influence it has on the fans and what it inspires the fans to do. And it's not just all about being fanatical, but it's about what Spider-Man stands for. He really is a hero to them. He really does inspire them. And that's amazing.

Besides the movie screenplay and the "Spider-Man" comics, what other source material inspired your performance in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"?

I looked at "Amadeus." Salieri and how he felt about Mozart is sort of like I wanted Electro to have that jealousy [of Spider-Man], that coveting, like, "I want what you have," instead of being happy with what you've been blessed with.

I remember when Salieri said, "This is who we chose, this little monkey!" And then he takes the cross and he burns it. I was like, "Wow, this guy is really in a dark place." So I used a bit of that.

And just for the mechanics, watching Clint Eastwood say, "Go ahead. Make my day," is sort of how I wanted to get my voice in a certain place. Even Alec Baldwin in the Capital One ads. All of those little things that you can grab from different places and put it in your mindset. People won't know what you're going through in the audience, but it helps.

DeHaan: For me, it was more about the comic books and just getting an understanding of who Harry Osborn has been in the Spider-Man universe and what he stands for. And then, once I had an understanding of that, finding a way of fitting that kind of person, that archetype person in modern-day society.

To me, he's no longer this guy who'd be wearing suits all the time, slicking his hair back, that kind of thing. He's the kind of guy who'd wear fashionable clothing and get a ridiculous haircut and be living in Williamsburg [a trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York]. I think that's where this archetype, this type of person would fit into today's modern New York City society.

The Harry Osborn in "The Amazing Spider-Man" movies is more emotionally damaged than the version of Harry Osborn that was in the original three "Spider-Man" movies. How does that play into Harry's leadership role of the Sinister Six? Is he going to be a reluctant mastermind or do you think he's going to be someone who's more collaborative?

DeHaan: I have no idea. I have no idea what's happening with that movie and what exactly my role is going to be in that movie. I just really hope I'm in it at this point, but I think Harry has always been the kind of person who uses his power to his advantage.

The fact that he was born into extreme wealth and power, to try to buy his happiness, he can get whatever he wants. The big conflict in this movie is when, all of a sudden, he finds out he's dying. And for the first time in his life, he finds out that he can't get the only thing he actually needs. In that way, you can look at it as a really big temper tantrum.

Is "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" the last we've seen of Electro?

Foxx: Electricity doesn't die, honey!

For more info: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" website