Paul Dano has been discussing his iconic characters with GQ – from Batman villain The Riddler, to Brian Wilson, to Steven Spielberg‘s Dad, to a man who rides a farting corpse. He discusses the reasons behind taking various roles, usually the script, sometimes the director, but in one case it’s just because he has a (very relatable) crush on cinematographer extraordinaire Roger Deakins.
Before making Dune or Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve’s first English language movie was Prisoners (2013), starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. Dano plays a young intellectually-challenged man who is accused of kidnapping two girls.
Dano says; “this is one of those that you don’t really wanna do, but you do…Denis told me that Roger Deakins was shooting it – who I just have a massive crush on. Do I want to play that part? No. But yeah, actually I can see a way in and then soon enough, you’re doing it.” Deakins is known for his work with the Coen Brothers, and the James Bond movie Skyfall.
Dano says that when he played The Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson, he stayed ‘in the soup’ of that character for the whole time, but he couldn’t do that with Prisoners. “One of the important moments in the development of that was, I remember thinking ‘OK if you’ve had that much trauma as a kid, what happens when we’re scared, what happens to our body? What happens if you just kept living with that?’ A way into that character for me was through the physicality – how I held my body and my jaw, even. I needed to find a way out, for my own mental health. I needed a way to step in and out of the character.”
Prisoners is known for a scene in which Hugh Jackman’s character tortures Paul Dano’s character, because he’s so desperate to find his daughter. “Luckily, Hugh Jackman is the nicest dude in the world. It’s true, what everybody says. He’s a super sweetie. So if you’re gonna get beaten by anybody, it’s nice to have Hugh on the other end of it.”
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