Exclusive Interview : Paul Dano


He may be best known for doing smaller, more evocative pictures, but rising young actor Paul Dano is far from a film snob. In fact, if you’ve got a great horror script or fabulous American Pie-esque comedy script you’d like him to read, he’d be interested in taking a look.

“I’m pretty much up for anything – you just gotta find the right piece of writing, and the right director to do it with”, Dano, whose past credits include “There will be Blood”, “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Fast Food Nation” says. “I tell ya, I’d like to do a horror film – but a really good horror film. I’d love to be in something like a Carrie or The Shining. I’d be into that.

“I’d also like to do a sci-fi film. I’d like to do a little quiet film about farming… or something. I’d like to do a gangster film. I’d like to do a period piece. I’d love to do a really broad comedy.”

Needless to say, Dano’s game for anything. Need further proof? In his latest film Gigantic, he plays a young mattress salesman who wants to adopt a Chinese baby. Not exactly a role he’d have had to fight Zac Efron over.

“My character has sort of had that dream at a very young age, which is sort of an irrational thing, but I think he’s looking for purpose – which being a father and having a baby would give him”, says Dano of his character, the gently but unusual Brian Weathersby.

“I fell for the character when I read the script. I liked him. He seemed like a normal guy. He’s subjugated but confident enough to deal with what’s in front of him. He’s just constantly surprising me. And what I also liked about the character is that his actions speak even louder than his words.”

Dano was approached by co-writer and director Matt Aselton before the release of his star-making turn in ‘’There Will be Blood”.

“It was in the works way before There Will Be Blood came out. Matt and I got together – we saw the same film, the same character; we definitely hit it off straight away.

“And [Matt] was great to work with – you never would’ve known he was a first-time filmmaker. Just even the way he ran his set – he knew what he wanted and he was very good with actors. I would work with Matt again in a heartbeat.”

He’d also love to work with John Goodman again – a favourite of Dano’s since childhood.

“I love John Goodman”, the New York-based actor says of the “Roseanne” and “Flintstones” star. “I have to say, he is a wonderful, beautiful, person that’s kind and hard-working. It was really a pleasure to get to work with him.”

Hollywood’s knocking on Dano’s door, but he’s not quite prepared to move out to California yet. And maybe that’s because he’s happy enough with what the East Coast offers him.

“I’d wanted to be an actor since I was young, but didn’t know how to get my foot in the door. But when I say ‘actor’, I refer to being a theatre actor in New York – because I thought that was about as good as it would get. Hollywood, and the film world, just felt like a far-off place to me at the time”, the 24-year-old explains. “I spend most of my time in New York. I grew up here. I love it here. There seems to be enough work here, so I don’t see any reason to move to L.A. I go to L.A every now and then, but not that often.”

And he’s right – there does seem to be enough work out there for Dano. He’s got no less than four movies due for release over the next twelve months. One of them is the troubled feature film adaptation of the best-selling children’s novel, “Where the Wild Things Are”.

Dano has heard the rumours about the film’s woes (it’s said that a lot of it had to be reshot because the studio wasn’t happy with it), but isn’t buying into any of them.

“The movie’s going to be great”, he says of the CGI film that also features the voices of Catherine Kenner, James Gandolfini and Forest Whitaker. “I’m really excited about it. It looks like it could be really magical. Just to work with [Director] Spike Jonze was amazing. And it was great to work with all the other actors – we all acted it out on a soundstage together, so it was like doing an actual movie. We spent three weeks together, playing around, improvising, and… it was great fun. Spike was a wonderful director. It’s a different type of film, but it felt like a pretty normal experience for me. It’s a big film, and they’ll try and give it to a big release”.

“I also have a very small part in Woodstock. Then there’s The Good Heart, which is from a guy named Dagur Kári – who is an Icelandic filmmaker; he made a movie called Noi the Albino. It’s Brian Cox and I. It’s a beautiful, strange, funny little film. What I’ve seen of it is good. They’re just in the editing process right now, so I’m not sure when that’s coming out.

Currently, Dano’s filming a buddy comedy, “The Extra Man”, about “a young man and an old eccentric playwright. It’s a little bit of a two-hander buddy film”.

“It’s from the filmmakers that made American Splendour, Shari Berman and Anthony Anthony Bregman. And it’s me, Kevin Kline, John C.Reilly, and Katie Holmes; I was very lucky to work with all of these guys, and I got along well with all of them. Kevin Kline was especially just so much fun to work with – he’s so funny and so great in this part, this part is just perfect for him. It’s pretty much just me and him for the whole movie, and I think we’ve got good chemistry.”