Ten Minutes With Paul Dano
Actor Paul Dano speaks with Wilton Magazine
Since graduating from Wilton High School, actor Paul Dano has appeared in movies that include Little Miss Sunshine, The Girl Next Door, There Will Be Blood, and Being Flynn. Later this year, he’ll star in For Ellen, Looper, and Ruby Sparks. Now in his late 20s and living in Brooklyn, he still returns to Wilton to visit his parents. He also performs with his band Mook, formed with high-school buddies.
I’ve acted my whole life. I started at a young age doing community and school theater. Once I was in college, on my own, and trying to be more of an adult, I decided to pursue acting as a profession. Although I knew much earlier, I tried to fight that urge.
I did one musical, but by then, I was already acting, doing some gigs, including theater in New York. For me, high school was more about hanging with friends, playing sports. It was time away from acting.
Do you have a favorite role?
My part in There Will Be Blood. It was also one of the more important experiences I’ve had. It was an extremely challenging role and I worked with several people who I really admire. That said, I like all the characters I play. I fall in love with them as I’m researching, preparing and acting each role.
Your take on Hollywood?
There are a lot of Hollywood horror stories about bad experiences, crazy circumstances, and egotistical people, but for the most part, I have had great experiences.
Ruby Sparks opens July 25.
It’s a love story about a writer struggling to follow-up on his hit first novel. His only friend is his brother, his only partner is his dog, so he begins to write about a girl. He falls in love with the character. One day he wakes up, and she’s in his house. The film takes off from there. It is funny, romantic, and has a big heart.
How did you prepare for the role?
Acting is a mysterious craft; the preparation is different for every role. If the script and character are well written, the words tell you how to prepare. For Ruby Sparks, I also read about writers, their routines, writers block. I learned to type well on a typewriter. I thought about fear of failure, control, love, success – what these mean to me and to Calvin, the character I play. I filled in Calvin’s history, with himself and the other characters, and worked with the words. And I daydreamed.
Any advice for young actors?
I remember after college when everybody went through the job-interview process. Most people go through a period where they have job interviews and that’s a stressful time. Acting is like having a job interview every week. It’s a very inconsistent line of work, which is actually one thing that I like about it, but I think some people have a hard time with. It requires a lot of perseverance and hard work. So I would say if you really like acting, keep at it.