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Paul Dano –

Paul Dano in Knight and Day.

About Paul Dano (1984 – )

Paul Franklin Dano was born in New York City, New York, the son of Gladys (née Pipp) and Paul A. Dano. He has a younger sister named Sarah. He is of Austrian, Czech, Slovak, and Swedish descent. Dano spent the first few years of his childhood in New York City and initially attended the Browning School, while his father worked as a businessman in New York.

While he was a child, Dano's family moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, finally settling in Wilton, Connecticut. Dano continued his education there at Wilton High School, graduating in 2002 and attending Eugene Lang College in New York City. He was involved in community theater, and while performing in New Canaan, his parents were encouraged to take him to New York.

At age 10, Dano had already been noted for roles in classical plays on Broadway, making his debut at age 12 in the John Tillinger directed revival of Inherit the Wind along with George C. Scott and Charles Durning. He appeared in an episode of the sitcom Smart Guy and a minor role in the 2000 family drama The Newcomers, as well playing the part of Patrick Whalen, in a few episodes of The Sopranos in season 4.

Dano acted in his first major film role when he was 16, playing the character of Howie Blitzer, a teenage boy who becomes involved with a middle-aged ephebophile, played by Brian Cox, in L.I.E. (2001). He then appeared in the TV movie Too Young to Be a Dad as a high school student whose life is disrupted when his girlfriend becomes pregnant. In 2004 he played a small role as young Martin Asher in Taking Lives with Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke. In 2005, he played supporting roles in The King with Gael Garcia Bernal, and The Ballad of Jack and Rose with Daniel Day-Lewis.

He came to greater attention in 2006, when he played a voluntarily mute teenager as part of an ensemble in the comedic drama Little Miss Sunshine, which received critical acclaim and awards for its cast. Dano's work with Daniel Day-Lewis led to a dual role opposite him in his next film, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, playing identical twin brothers Eli and Paul Sunday. This earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and brought him positive reviews, with Texas Monthly saying that his performance was "so electric that the movie sags whenever he's not around." and Peter Travers remarking "All praise to the baby-faced Dano...for bringing sly cunning and unexpected ferocity to Plainview's most formidable opponent." Rolling Stone magazine included Dano in its Hot List for 2007.

Dano appeared in several additional Broadway productions including A Thousand Clowns at the Roundabout Theatre, and in the Ethan Hawke directorial debut Things We Want during its 2007 Off-Broadway run.

In 2008, he starred in Gigantic, a poorly-reviewed film about a man seeking to adopt a Chinese baby, co-starring Zooey Deschanel. He reunited with Brian Cox in 2009's The Good Heart, a low-budget English-language Icelandic film. He provided the voice of one of the creatures in the film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. He played a genius inventor in 2010's Knight and Day, an action thriller starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. The same year he appeared in Meek's Cutoff, a well-reviewed historical drama. In 2011, he had a supporting role in the big-budget box-office flop science fiction film Cowboys and Aliens.

Dano appeared in three films in 2012: Ruby Sparks, as a writer whose fictional character (played by Zoe Kazan, the film's writer and Dano's girlfriend) inexplicably appears as a real person; time-travel thriller Looper, in a supporting role with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis; and with Robert De Niro in Being Flynn as the film's writer Nick Flynn, about his relationship with his father. In 2014, Dano played a younger version of the Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson, with John Cusack as an older version of Wilson, in the biopic Love & Mercy, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In January 2016, Dano played Pierre Bezukhov in the BBC's six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.

Paul Dano's movie credits include...

Year Movie Role
2000 The Newcomers Joel
2001 L.I.E. Howie Blitzer
2002 The Emperor's Club Martin Blythe
2004 The Girl Next Door Klitz
2004 Taking Lives Young Asher
2005 The Ballad of Jack and Rose Thaddius
2005 The King Paul
2006 Little Miss Sunshine Dwayne Hoover
2006 Fast Food Nation Brian
2007 Weapons Chris
2007 There Will Be Blood Paul Sunday / Eli Sunday
2008 Explicit Ills Rocco
2008 Light and the Sufferer Don ("Light")
2008 Gigantic Brian Weathersby
2009 Taking Woodstock VW Guy
2009 The Good Heart Lucas
2009 Where the Wild Things Are Alexander
2010 The Extra Man Louis Ives
2010 Meek's Cutoff Thomas Gately
2010 Knight and Day Simon Feck
2011 Cowboys & Aliens Percy Dolarhyde
2012 Being Flynn Nick Flynn
2012 Ruby Sparks Calvin Weir-Fields
2012 Looper Seth
2012 For Ellen Joby
2013 12 Years a Slave John Tibeats
2013 Prisoners Alex Jones
2014 Love & Mercy Brian Wilson
2015 Youth Jimmy Tree
2016 Swiss Army Man Hank

Paul Dano's television credits include...

Year Show/Series Role
1998 Smart Guy Nicholas
2002 Too Young to Be a Dad Matt Freeman
The Sopranos Patrick Whalen
2016 Codes of Conduct Jared Rotmensen
2016 War and Peace Pierre Bezukhov

Memorable Quotes by Paul Dano

“[on working with Daniel Day-Lewis in the movie, The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)] "It was incredible. I mean, Daniel Day-Lewis and I were enemies in the movie. I'm the "snake" and his daughter Rose is the "rose". You couldn't get any more opposite from the character I play in (The Girl Next Door) than the one I play in that. I'm the villain, the snake, sleazy and like this sexual creature. There were days when we wouldn't even look at each other until the end of the day because we were intense. I got into that; it was great. It would help me, too. You know, I look up to him. Before I even auditioned for the movie I did, so it was incredible.”

“I want to get better and I want to do more. It's less about stardom and more about being somebody who wants to help create work I want to see.”

“[on working with Steve Carell] "I knew Steve from The Daily Show (1996) and that funny scene he had in Bruce Almighty (2003). I didn't maybe know him by name at that point, but I was just like, "That dude is hilarious!". He's genuinely a very down-to-earth, sweet guy. I have a lot of respect for him. We became good friends. Nobody was really on a pedestal or anything. When you're working with people you look up to and they put you on the same level, it makes your job a little easier, confidence-wise. I never felt nervous, it was just a lot of fun.”

“[on preparing for his role in Little Miss Sunshine (2006)] In my house, I tried not talking for a couple days and it was almost impossible to be at a dinner table with my parents and not point out to them what I thought was silly that they were saying. You just want to rebel! It was so difficult.”

“Everything you do, every experience that you have, enlightens you a little bit or worsens you. L.I.E. (2001) was big for me. I think it's one of the best things I've been a part of in my life, so far.”

“(On if he watches his own films) Yeah, I like to see things once just to have closure. Anything beyond that, I don't know. It's probably not a good thing. Then I start to pick away at myself, you know? Maybe there's something you can learn from it, but I kind of like to see things once, just to know what the movie is.”

Things You May Not Know About Paul Dano

He and Billy Kay were already friends at the time L.I.E. was filmed, having worked together earlier in The Newcomers.

Daniel Day-Lewis was so impressed by his work in The Ballad of Jack and Rose that he recommended him to director Paul Thomas Anderson for the role of Paul Sunday in There Will Be Blood.

Paul's paternal grandparents, John Dano and Anna Herzo, were both from Slovak families that immigrated to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Paul's mother is of half Austrian (including Bohemian/Czech) and half Swedish descent.

As of 2014, Dano has appeared in three films nominated for Best Picture: Little Miss Sunshine (2006), There Will Be Blood (2007), and 12 Years a Slave (2013).

Paul Dano in 12 Years a Slave (2013).
Paul Dano in Being Flynn (2012)...
Second from bottom picture with Robert De Niro.
Dano in For Ellen (2012).
Dano in Gigantic (2008)...
Top three pictures with Zooey Deschanel.
With Tom Cruise in Knight and Day (2010).
Dano in L.I.E. (2001).
As Dwayne Hoover in Little Miss Sunshine (2006).
With Joseph Gordon Levitt in Looper (2012).
As Beach Boy Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy (2014).
In Prisoners (2013).
Dano in Ruby Sparks (2012)...
Second and fifth pictures with Zoe Kazan.
In The Extra Man (2010)...
With Kevin Kline in second picture from bottom.
In The Girl Next Door (2004).
Dano in The Good Heart (2009)...
With Brian Cox in second picture.
Dano as the twin Brothers Sunday in There Will Be Blood (2007)...
With Daniel Day Lewis in pictures one, four, five, and six.
Paul Dano as Pierre Bezukhov in Tolstoy's War and Peace (2016).