Paul Dano Talks FOR ELLEN, LOOPER, BEING FLYNN, HE LOVES ME, NIGHT MOVES, and More at Sundance 2012

     February 1, 2012


One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer-director So Young Kim‘s (In Between Days) For Ellen.  Led by a fantastic performance by Paul Dano, the film’s about a struggling musician trying to keep custody of his very young daughter even though he’s never been around.  The film also stars Jon Heder, Jena Malone, Margarita Levieva, and Shay Mandigo.

Shortly after seeing the film I got to sit down with Dano for an extended interview.  We talked about being at Sundance, how he got involved in For Ellen, what it’s about, who he plays, how much fun he had playing a “narcissistic prick,” what it’s like to be in almost every frame of the movie,  and if more people want to talk to him about The Girl Next Door, Little Miss Sunshine, or There Will Be Blood?  In addition, with Dano involved in so many other projects, we also talked about Rian Johnson‘s Looper, Being Flynn with Robert De Niro, director Jonathan Dayton and Valerie FarisHe Loves Me, and how he’s hoping to do a film called Night Moves with Meek’s Cutoff director Kelly Reichardt.  Hit the jump to watch.

As usual, I’ve time indexed the interview so you can watch the parts that interest you.   Finally, a huge thank you to Paul Dano for giving me so much time.

For-Ellen-Paul-DanoPaul Dano Time Index

  • :11 What does it mean to be back at Sundance? Says the Little Miss Sunshine experience was the craziest of all.
  • 1:08 Do more people want to talk to him about The Girl Next Door, Little Miss Sunshine, or There Will Be Blood? Says it’s crazy how many people come up to him and talk about The Girl Next Door.
  • 2:06 What’s his go-to karaoke song?
  • 2:28 Describes what the movie’s about and how he got involved in it. He plays a hard rock musician who’s in his late twenties and his career isn’t going anywhere. He goes to a small town to divorce his estranged wife and meets his daughter for the first time. Says it’s a delicious part; he gets to play a narcissistic prick.
  • 3:59 Talks about what it’s like to be in almost every frame.
  • 4:52 How many takes does he like to do? Says the small stuff usually ends up taking less takes than the big, important scenes. He prefers not to rehearse and likes to do a lot of takes.
  • For-Ellen-Paul-Dano6:30 Preparing for a role. He likes to spend as much time with the character as he can.
  • 7:44 Talks about his preparation for this particular role. Says the character was very different from himself, and the biggest thing for him was finding the jacket that he wore in the film.
  • 10:11 Did he ever go out in character, with the tattoos and costume and everything? Says going out to bars and to rock shows helped him find the character.
  • 11:25 Talks about his career trajectory. Says he likes to read projects and get really lit up. He’d like to try some big projects at some point, and eventually get to a place where he can get projects made that he’s passionate about.
  • 13:11 Talks about Looper. “I did a part in Looper because I wanted to work with Rian. It’s a small part, but I have a couple really nice scenes. I think it’s gonna be badass. I think he’s super talented, I really liked him. Joe [Gordon-Levitt] is a great guy and a very good actor. It’s a very good script, and it’s best to not know anything because I think it’s gonna turn some heads.”
  • 13:49 Talks about filming Being Flynn with Robert De Niro. Says he thinks it’s De Niro’s best work in a while.
  • 15:05 Talks about He Loves Me. It’s directed by Little Miss Sunshine directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Says it’s gonna come out later this year. Calls it a magic-realist-romantic-comedy-drama.
  • 16:01 Upcoming projects. He’s hoping to do a film called Night Moves with Meek’s Cutoff director Kelly Reichardt.


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