Paul Dano Tapped To Play Brian Wilson In ‘Love & Mercy’

Paul Dano has been tapped to play a younger version The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy, a biopic of the ’60s icon, the Hollywood Reporter reports

Director Bill Pohlad secured the life rights of Wilson and Wilson’s wife Melinda. Love & Mercy, which was written by Oren Moverman of the Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There, will follow Wilson’s rise to fame and accompanying battle with mental illness and drug addiction.

The actor who’ll play the older Wilson in the film has not yet been cast. 

Pohlad’s other past projects include producing Brokeback Mountain, The Chicago 10, Into The Wild, The Runaways, and The Tree Of Life. Love & Mercy will only be his second directorial gig. 

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NYC ‘Moby Dick’ Marathon Starts This Friday

How often have you had your lover read you classic novels about whaling in bed and thought: “This is great, but I wish it was happening in a public place with more people and also maybe some clothes on”? Zero? Okay, but regardless, come out and hear some performers and writers (including yours truly) read aloud Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, or, The Whale in its blubbered entirety over the course of this coming weekend at three different bookstores. There will be clam chowder.

The party begins at WORD, in Brooklyn, on Friday evening, then moves to Housing Works in SoHo, then to Molasses Books and finally back to Housing Works, taking about twenty-five hours in all. Some later monologues will be acted out by pros; meanwhile, Paul Dano, whom we last saw dying a gruesome time-travel-related death in Looper, is taking the reins for the famous opening lines.

What could go wrong? Little besides the catastrophic mispronunciation of an odd and archaic word—the kind Melville was so fond of. The event’s organizers, in fact, have offered a list of tricky terms we’re likely to stumble over: these include “isinglass,” “grampus,” and “catarrh,” all of which clearly need to come back into popular use immediately. If nothing else, we can surely resurrect the art of scrimshaw—amazing how that’s not a hipster fad already. 

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‘Looper’ Trailer: Time-Traveling Joseph Gordon-Levitt Hunts Himself

Here’s one for heavy concepts: In Rian Johnson’s Looper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a type of assassin — naturally called a looper — whose job it is to kill people sent to him from the future. As in, criminal mobs from 2072 time travel the person they want gone back to 2042, where JGL pumps them full of lead. Everything’s going fine until he’s tasked with a killing out of the ordinary: His future self, played by a grizzly Bruce Willis. In the moment where he hesitates for the kill, Willis escapes and hijinks ensue, because nothing’s worse in a sci-fi film than someone from the future meddling in the past. 

It’s definitely ambitious: Director Johnson, previously known for quirky genre exercises like Brick and The Brothers Bloom, has never been shy about breaking convention and doing something strange. In this case, it means slicking JGL with makeup to make sure he resembles a younger Willis, an effect which is partially believable and partially absurd, especially when they try to make the same grumpy guy facial expression.

But the mystery of what remains to be seen — why Willis is up for assassination, and how time-travel can be retroactively achieved — seems to make Looper as interesting as any other movie you might see this year, assuming science fiction is your bag. Which, why the hell not? Jeff Daniels, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Piper Perabo also star. It’s out on September 28.

Exclusive: See Paul Dano on the Set of His Directorial Debut, ‘Franklin and Matilda’

For a man of twenty-six who can’t grow a full beard, Paul Dano has checked a lot of items off the career to-do list: Appear in a Broadway show at age twelve with George C. Scott and Charles Durning; make on-screen man-boy love to Brian Cox; star in a Lifetime Original movie about teen pregnancy (Too Young To Be a Dad—a classic of the genre); play AJ’s friend on the Sopranos; steal the show with a mostly non-speaking role in an Oscar-winning film; fight Daniel Day Lewis in a bowling alley in another Oscar-winning film. Check. Check. Check. Check. You think he’d be satisfied, content to sit on the couch with a beer, his beautiful and incredibly talented girlfriend, actress/playwright Zoe Kazan, nestled to his chest. A lot of the time he can be found doing just that, but right now he wants to direct. So direct it is. Yesterday, I stopped by the set of Franklin and Matilda, Dano’s latest idée fixe, to snap some shots and check out the scene.

Franklin and Matilda, which Dano also wrote, is a short film shot in super16 black and white starring Kazan and Eddie Redmayne (who won the Tony this year for his performance in Red) as two lovers captured at various moments over the arc of their relationship. A family affair—Maya Kazan, Zoe’s sister, is producing the film, and Paul’s sister Sarah is also working on set—the gang is currently shooting at various locations in and around the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, where Dano and Kazan live. They filmed a scene at the restaurant People’s Republic of Brooklyn on Smith St, and another in a friend’s bathroom.


The crew, which consists mostly of former Wesleyan students, friends of Maya Kazan, buzzed in the confined space of a Brooklyn Heights apartment, hanging lights, adjusting camera angles, and generally looking busy. Dano, sporting a French-inspired moustache, paced the set giving quiet instruction. Zoe Kazan lounged on a couch, catching some much needed chill-out time between shots as her sister juggled cellphones and paperwork and light fixtures, all the while smiling and exuding an impressive calm amidst the set’s chaos. It looked like fun.

It turns out Dano’s frenchy-trash-stache is no accident. “I wrote the film after watching Antoine et Collette, The Trauffaut short,” Paul told me. The film takes inspiration from the French New Wave, as well as quintessential New York directors Woody Allen and Jim Jarmusch. Indeed, there are nods to the dry wit and minimalist aesthetic of early Jarmusch films like Stranger Than Paradise in Franklin and Matilda. “I wanted to shoot something in NYC in black and white. I’ve never had the chance to act in something black and white,” he said. “So I had to direct something instead.”



Behind the Scenes: Paul Dano’s Trippy Shoot

Paul Dano, the 25 year old who has lent his talents to films like Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, and Where the Wild Things Are, is just as amazing to watch in real life as he is onscreen. Behind the scenes of his April BlackBook shoot, Dano proves to be brooding, thoughtful, and magical to watch. But we might have taken the magical part a tad too far in our video of the shoot. Enjoy the trip!

The Professional and Private Lives of Paul Dano

I’d like to try to do something helpful. I’d like to figure out what I want and then accomplish that,” says actor Paul Dano on a frigid Wednesday in March. “I’d like to be happy.” The 25-year-old actor’s life is at once as big as a blockbuster film and as intimate as a dusty studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where he just finished posing for this photo shoot. To exist—let alone thrive—in both worlds is a rarity, but with a caginess befitting a more seasoned actor, Dano has been weaving his way through the two, dazzling directors, critics and colleagues with his fancy footwork.

Dano has mastered the art of choosing quality projects, a talent he’s had ever since his breakout turn as a lost and sexually confused young teen in L.I.E., a role that won him the award for best debut performance at the Independent Spirit Awards when he was 16. His lucky, prescient film choices—or perhaps their choice of him—bear the mark of an actor uninterested in the perks of celebrity.

He played Dwayne, the mute Nietzsche apostle in Little Miss Sunshine; embodied the slaphappy preacher to Daniel Day-Lewis’ oil tycoon in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood; and voiced a character in Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. He recently shot Knight and Day, this summer’s Tom Cruise-and-Cameron Diaz action vehicle, as well as The Extra Man, alongside John C. Reilly and Katie Holmes, and another indie, Meek’s Cutoff, with Michelle Williams. He also stars in Icelandic director Dagur Kári’s The Good Heart,a very strange little film about a bar in New York City, shot mostly in Iceland.

The Good Heart reunites Dano with his L.I.E. co-star Brian Cox. “Brian was a father-like figure not only to my character in that film, but also to me, since it was my first time working on a movie set,” Dano says. I remember having a conversation with him about sex when I was like 16, and thinking, I guess I’m an adult now. Nine years later, we’re much more like pals.”

While neither meandering nor disengaged, Dano talks slowly, measuring each word and phrase, considering the weight with which they’ll land. There’s a knowing wit in him, too, a dry sense of humor one might expect from the bartender at the local pub—not, say, one’s pomegranate martini- making mixologist—which is fitting considering his latest film. A Good Heart tells the story of an old loner, played by Cox, who adopts Dano, a homeless young loner, and then trains him to take over his beloved dive bar. Things go awry when Dano’s character encourages a young French woman to join the twosome (which, technically, is already a foursome, if one considers their loyal dog and a duck named Estragon).


A Good Heart feels foreign and incredibly odd, though still touching and unique. In other words, it’s not the romantic comedy we’d expect from an indie star breaking into the mainstream. “I got the script and I read it and said, Shit, Kári is talented,” Dano says, explaining his choice. “And so we talked. And I liked him a lot. And I’m a sucker for a good bar. And I liked the duck. And the dog.”

But even when he takes on larger studio projects, he doesn’t sacrifice any of his obvious passion for the craft. Says his recent co-star Cameron Diaz, “The part that Paul plays in Knight and Day was a smaller role that he made into so much more than any of us could have imagined. He truly makes the most of every moment as an actor. He managed to find the humor as well as the humanity in the character.” Plus, she adds, “He’s dead sexy.”

Dano, who began acting in the theater long before he landed his first film role, last took to the stage in 2007’s Things We Want, an off- Broadway play directed by Ethan Hawke that paired Dano with his then co-star and now-girlfriend Zoe Kazan. “I love and trust her. I talk about everything with her, including my career, and not just because she’s an actress. She’s super-talented and makes me want to be better.” Kazan, who has appeared in films such as Revolutionary Road and It’s Complicated, shares the sentiment. “It’s nice to find common ground,” she says. “And that’s something I didn’t know, because I had never dated an actor before Paul. It’s lovely to come home and be able to say, I had a really tough time with this scene.”

Dano and Kazan call Carroll Gardens home, and count among their neighbors Michelle Williams. (“She’s good friends with Zoe,” he says. “We do the Brooklyn thang.”) Far from the bottom lines and overheads of Hollywood, Dano seems to have found his niche. There, he relaxes with his girlfriend, plays guitar with his pals and gorges on dumplings at a local spot called Eton.

Still, he’s always looking forward. Dano has just written and will be directing a short film. “It’ll be six to eight minutes,” he says. “It’s a love story. One thing about acting is that I wish I had more control over the final product. It’s probably best, when I’m acting, not to—but I’d like to be in an edit room. Everybody has a perspective on love, death or samurais.”

As he trudges past the warehouses that line this particular part of Greenpoint, hands in the pockets of his hooded army coat, Dano looks like any other man making his way home from work—or in his case, to a donut shop called Peter Pan where he’ll pick up snacks for Kazan’s parents, who are visiting from Los Angeles. But then he ducks into an awaiting Lincoln Town Car, and, just like that, Paul Dano reminds us he isn’t all that normal.


Photography by Billy Kidd. Styling by Anna Katsanis.

Where Celebs Go Out: America Ferrera, Harvey Keitel, Hope Davis

At the premiere of Our Family Wedding:

● AMERICA FERRERA – “My favorite restaurant of the moment is Broadway East, on the Lower East Side.” ● CHARLIE MURPHY – “I’ve been going to this Mexican restaurant in New Jersey. I think it’s called El Torito, whatever. That’s one of them. I go to so many restaurants. This is what I want to explain, so no one’s insulted. I’m on the road 48 weeks of the year in different towns, and I go to a lot of restaurants, so to ask me what my favorite restaurant is, is kind of a hard question to answer. I like going to Baja Fresh in L.A.” ● GRETCHEN ROSSI – “In Newport Beach, it’s Flemings. It’s a steakhouse, and I eat the steak and potatoes and everything that you can imagine on the menu. But I just eat small portions, so that you get a taste of everything.”

● LANCE GROSS – “I love Tao here in New York. I don’t get to New York a lot, but the Cafeteria. I love the Cafeteria. I do all the nightclubs. I don’t even know the names. I just go into them.” ● REGINA KING – “Right now, I’m really loving Osteria Mozza in L.A., Mario Batali’s restaurant. It’s so funny because where he opened was a place in L.A. that there’s been four restaurants that tried to make it there; came; spent a lot of money; closed down. And he has been booming, banging with business, and rightfully so. So, if you go and get the oxtail ragu — oh, my God! Hah! It is so good, and mmmm, the pizza next door is even better, because it’s Nancy Silverton from La Brea Bakery making the dough. I love to eat, clearly.” ● PRAS – “Geez! Right now it’s gotta be Dylan Prime. That’s in my neighborhood. Every time I’m out of town, I always take a trip back to Dylan. I feel like I’ve landed back home. Do you like steak? I love — I’m a big meat eater, despite all the things they tell you about eating charred beef.”

At the opening of A Behanding in Spokane on Broadway:

● HARVEY KEITEL – “A candy store in Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn. It was called Ali Baba & the 40 Thieves.” ● ANTHONY MACKIE – “Hey, book that is black! I love to go down to STK. One of my very favorite restaurants is Three Sisters, on Madison and 124th — the best Caribbean food you can find in New York. ● JENNIFER MORRISON – “I have had no chance to discover that yet because we just opened last night. Where in L.A.? I love Madeo restaurant. We eat there all the time. Dan Tana’s, some of the usual spots. I’m a huge fan of spaghetti and meat sauce. It’s my weakness, anywhere I go.” ● ZOE KAZAN – “I love your magazine! I haven’t been going to a lot of bars or clubs lately. I’ve been going to theater hangouts, like the West Bank Cafe or Bar Centrale. In my neighborhood, I love Buttermilk Channel, which is a restaurant in Cobble Hill or Frankie’s 457. I like the fried chicken at Buttermilk Channel.” ● MARTIN MCDONAGH – “Angus McIndoe.” ● HUGH JACKMAN – “Oh, c’mon!”

● DANA IVEY – “I don’t want to give it away ’cause too many people will go there. I don’t want to say because it’ll be infiltrated by everybody, and I won’t get a seat! No, but Joe Allen’s is always good. That’s one of my faves. Oh, they have this great, great salad that I really, really like — trevisano, something, I can’t remember, but that’s what I get every time.” ● HOPE DAVIS –Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn.” ● JOAN HAMBURG – “You mean in this neighborhood? I love to go to Orso’s. Oh, I like a lot of places. I like Blue Hill downtown. I got a list!” ● SARAH PAULSON – “One of them is a secret. I don’t want anybody else to know about it, so I won’t talk about that place. I love a place called Café Cluny, on 12th Street and West 4th Street, down in the Village. Any favorite dish? The burger and the Cluny. It’s a giant martini, which is always really good. I’m, kind of, like a person who only goes to places that are in the neighborhood I happen to be standing in, in the moment, which is what’s so great about New York — you’re bound to turn around and hit something great.” ● MARCIA GAY HARDEN – “Oh, God, we never go out. Honestly, we don’t go out. Our living room, our kitchen, our dining room. What about in L.A.? Oh, God, I wouldn’t say L.A. before New York! I couldn’t possibly say L.A. before New York. Okay, wait! We like Settepani in Harlem. We love Orso. We love Orso.” ● STACY KEACH – “It’s a tough one, isn’t it? There’s so many. Joe’s restaurant in Venice. Everything is good, but I, particularly, like steak ‘n eggs, yeah. In New York, there’s so many wonderful restaurants, and we just got here. And every time I come back to New York, I discover new places, so I’m hesitant to give you names of places.” ● PABLO SCHREIBER – “The old standards are the — what’s the place over here on 46th where we go after the show? It’s right above Joe Allen’s. Yeah, I, always forget the name of it ’cause they have no sign. [That would be Bar Centrale. -ed] That’s my favorite place for after-dinner drinks. I went to a great Greek restaurant last night, called Molyvos, on 7th Avenue between 55th and 56th. That place was pretty delicious. I had the whole fish. It was a black sea bass, and they did it perfectly. I’m a father of a 16th-month-old kid, so I don’t get out much these days.” ● DAVID HYDE PIERCE – “No, I don’t have any. I don’t have a lot of places to talk about like that.” ● LILY RABE – “I love Maialino. It’s in the Gramercy Park Hotel. It just opened. It’s amazing. Yes, it’s really good. And I love Café Cluny. Morandi. Those are my favorite places to eat. And the Breslin is also really incredible. The Breslin has this pork belly that’s one of the most memorable things I’ve ever eaten in the city.” ● JULIE TAYMORE –Craft, Maialino, Bobby Flay’s restaurant Mesa Grill.” ● TOM WAITS – “Oh, gee, I eat at home. I eat at home.” ● PAUL DANO – “Eton’s — it’s a dumpling place in Brooklyn. Po. Franny’s — all Brooklyn.” ● ANTHONY ANDERSON – “I really don’t hang out much in New York because of the work schedule that we have. But when I do, I find myself having a drink at Tillman’s. My favorite eatery would have to be Abe & Arthur’s.” ● GRIFFIN DUNNE – “I’m mostly upstate these days, so I’ve got little holes up there that I hit, in Duchess County. What do I want to plug? Gigi’s, an Italian restaurant — very, very good. I think that’s in Rhinebeck, yeah.”

Paul Dano Is Paul Dano

Paul Dano is tired. The Interviewer can’t believe Paul Dano’s here. “I can’t believe it either. I’d like to be in bed,” Paul Dano sighs. Paul Dano explains: “I guess I was up ‘til 4:30 last night, so I feel so removed from this now.” The “this” Paul Dano talks about is Gigantic, for which he has already done several promotional interviews this morning. Paul Dano, all of 24 years old, with inexplicably boyish features, looks younger than his same-aged Interviewer by at least a few years, but is probably a few years more tired than him, too.

Gigantic, an indie dramedy also starring Zooey Deschanel and John Goodman, and helmed by first-time feature writer-director Matt Aselton, stars Paul Dano as a mattress salesman constantly trumped by the fiscal and social successes of those around him. Paul Dano’s character in the movie wants to adopt an Asian baby. But the real Paul Dano is sitting across from his interviewer at a table in Midtown Manhattan, trying to decide what to order, since he hasn’t yet really eaten* (or slept, for that matter).

When asked how he came to the project, Paul Dano sighs, and rubs his face: “I just got sent the script.” By Paul Dano’s agent, the interviewer asks?

“Yeah,” says Paul Dano. “I really liked it.” The interviewer looks at Paul Dano with a mixture of empathy and resentment: I know you’ve been asked this question twenty times today, already, the interviewer thinks, but you could at least try for something different. The interviewer sticks his recorder in Paul Dano’s face, to try to get him to elaborate. Paul Dano tries back:

“I thought it was funny, but I also just liked Brian, the character that I play. And I think it was probably because he was sort of a normal guy, in some respects. He worked at a mattress store, you know, smart guy, but then there was this other quality about him that was this balance of a sort of oppression, or depression, and a confidence. And he spoke through his actions a lot, for me.”

The interviewer wonders if Paul Dano is doing the same thing, speaking through his actions right now, and if these — silent boys becoming men, who go through different stripes of irrefutably loud action — are the types of characters Paul Dano is exhausting himself playing. He asks Paul Dano if Paul Dano is like the character in that regard. The interviewer is trying, maybe too hard, with Paul Dano.

And in response, Paul Dano looks at the interviewer strangely, now, as if he asked him something deeply personal, yet, also, somehow, completely asinine. “I … felt like I couldn’t do [the things Brian does],” Paul Dano extracts the words from the back of his head, the irritated part, the overworked part that wants to go back to bed. Paul Dano soldiers on. “Like, [Zooey Deschanel’s character] says ‘Come by my work,’ and he actually does. That’s not normal. I think a lot of guys our age or whatever don’t always do that. At one point, she says, ‘Can you see up my skirt?’ and he just looks, and says, ‘No.’ But there was also still like, a mystery to it, and I didn’t totally know him though, so I wanted to get into that.”

This strikes the interviewer as profound, though he could just be looking for a profound angle on Paul Dano to finish this story with. Then again, if Paul Dano were wrong, the interviewer wouldn’t be suppressing an urge to stand on his chair and start screaming at Paul Dano a list of grievances against this entire publicity process that forces both parties to promote something neither, it appears, are too interested in at the moment, at least not compared to their interest in sleep. Paul Dano is right about the kinds of all-too-common men occupying their 20s at the moment. Paul Dano is, at the very least, right about one other person in the room. Paul Dano is asked what he makes of this revelation, of pain, of pressure, of being in your 20s and maybe wanting to scream out — or do something, anything — more often than not.

“I’ve certainly felt enough pressures. I’ve had enough experiences that I’m able to understand situations like that,” Paul Dano receives the question with reluctance and hesitancy. “One thing that I don’t need to do is divulge any of my private life,” Paul Dano’s careful, and possibly now pissed off to even have to note, “but yeah, I think a lot of us have been in some position like that. The funny thing is, I know a lot of people who have great things going on and you go off and find the place where something is against you, or something is wrong. I think everybody can relate to something like that.” Paul Dano has now expertly dodged giving the interviewer anything resembling a revealing answer, and this, too, strikes the interviewer as incidental, and now, possibly ironic.

Because the interviewer thought Gigantic was a beautiful film, the unique kind that speaks through what isn’t said, and the silences that lay before the characters after their actions are fully received, the kind of movie Paul Dano is making a name for himself on. Paul Dano, who went tit-for-tat with Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood — enough said — and was the silent threat to the loud disquiet of those around him in Little Miss Sunshine. Paul Dano is in small stories with big, sprawling settings about family, with pointed intention of poignancy, that can’t really be encapsulated in an interview. Every movie Paul Dano makes could charmingly be called Gigantic, but the interviewer doesn’t know how it strikes Paul Dano — irritating, I guess, he thinks. The interviewer now sees Paul Dano with the compassion he commonly lacks for other human beings, and wants to wrap this up.

He asks — as he often must, for he works for a nightlife-oriented publication — what Paul Dano’s favorite places to eat and drink in New York are. Paul Dano is officially nonplussed.

“I live in Brooklyn,” Paul Dano confides, “so I‘m a little reclusive. I really like this dumpling joint called Eton, in Brooklyn. And I like this place called Char No. 4, on Smith Street — they have really good sausage and bacon, and they have a great whiskey selection. Frankie’s, that Italian restaurant on Court Street, and I like Chestnut, they make a good brunch.” This is the least profound — yet, most substantial — information Paul Dano has given me.

And somehow, that (and his preference for whiskey) makes the interviewer appreciate Paul Dano all the more. The narrative strikes the interviewer like a swift kick in the head: The young, working actor, he who has tried himself against and worked with the greatest in his craft, now too tired to talk about the things he does, too exhausted by the great work before and ahead of him to actually say anything even remotely interesting about it, the most telling thing about him about him being his name, and the connotation behind it, the one which can’t be spoken for but in one way: Paul Dano, Paul Dano, Paul Dano.

—— * It appears that Paul Dano eventually ordered fries, and gave nearly identical answers he gave the interviewer to the writer who came after him. For this, Paul Dano is absolutely Paul Dano.