It’s hard to think of a more underappreciated actor in our generation than Paul Dano. While he may not land as many leading roles as certain other A-list actors (such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, etc.), in terms of theatrical ability and the believability of the characters that they portray, Dano definitely deserves to be counted among the top tier of our generation’s Hollywood stars. He’s played characters that are quirky, awkward, heroic, evil, disturbed, and just plain weird. And, in my experience, I’ve never seen a performance by Paul Dano that I wasn’t thoroughly impressed by. If you couldn’t tell, he’s one of my favorite actors of all time.
Paul Dano hails from New York City where he was raised by his father, a financial advisor, and his mother, who stayed at home with Paul and his sister. During his childhood, Paul’s family moved to Wilton, Connecticut, and he attended Wilton High School. However, his interest in theater brought him back to New York City and he ended up attending Eugene Lang College in Greenwich Village.
Before Paul had even graduated, though, he had long been involved in major theatrical productions. At the age of 12, he starred in the Broadway production of John Tillinger’s revival of Inherit the Wind and, at the age of 16, he had his first major role in a feature-length film, starring in L.I.E. alongside Brian Cox. Dano also made a brief cameo in the fourth season of The Sopranos as a young actor, which many people forget about.
From there, Dano has gone on to amass one of the most impressive filmographies of any actor currently active in Hollywood. So, the task of identifying the best performances of Paul Dano’s career is not an easy one. However, in this article, I’ll endeavor to do just that. Let’s take a look back at the long and fruitful career of Paul Dano and the 5 best roles he’s ever played.
1. Love & Mercy
While it’s certainly up for debate, I would argue that the crown jewel of Paul Dano’s career to date is his performance in the 2014 biopic Love & Mercy, in which he stars as the younger version of Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson. In Dano’s tragic portrayal of the famous musician, we see the start of his psychological descent as he struggles to balance his family life, his life as a musician, and his mental health. Honestly, if this performance doesn’t bring you to tears, you might be lacking a heart.
This film also stars John Cusack as the older version of Brian Wilson and the storyline alternates scenes between the older and younger version of the musician. Thus, we get two parallel performances by Dano and Cusack, both of them portraying the same man, giving the audience two different but succinct perspectives on his life. This movie also features some incredible performances from Paul Giamatti and Elizabeth Banks. All in all, Love & Mercy is one supremely inspiring and heartbreaking film, thanks in no small part to the work of Paul Dano.
2. There Will Be Blood
In an interview with GQ, Paul Dano mentioned that he and Daniel Day-Lewis weren’t exactly “buddy-buddy” on the set of the 2007 film There Will Be Blood. Well, that animosity certainly translated to the big screen as the two of them delivered one incredibly subtle-yet-intense joint performance in this iconic film. The hatred between the two characters is palpable throughout the entire movie, and there are several scenes between them where you’ll surely forget to breathe.
In this film, Daniel Day-Lewis portrays Daniel Plainview, a cutthroat capitalist who purchases a plot of land believing that he’ll find oil there. Paul Dano plays Eli Sunday, the preacher from which Daniel bought the land who wishes to use the proceeds of the sale to build his own religious empire. Their ambitions come head-to-head as they find their interests in conflict and neither is willing to back down from the other. This film is really all about the theatrical prowess of both Day-Lewis and Dano and, if you’re a fan of good acting, then There Will Be Blood is an absolute must-watch.
3. Little Miss Sunshine
One of the most impressive performances of Paul Dano’s career is also one of the performances in which he has the fewest lines. Yes, in the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine, Dano plays Dwayne Hoover, a teenager who’s taken a vow of silence until he completes his goal of going to pilot school. However (spoiler alert), Dwayne breaks his vow in one of the best scenes in the movie when he learns that he’s colorblind and has a full-blown panic attack in which he expresses his hatred for his family.
Dano’s performance of Dwayne Hoover is an incredibly accurate representation of teenage angst. The internal conflict that Dwayne faces throughout the film is written all over his face, even if he says only a few words. On top of that, the relationship that Dwayne has with his little sister is incredibly sweet and might even make you shed a tear or two. All in all, Paul Dano’s performance in Little Miss Sunshine was incredibly memorable, particularly for one specific line: “You do what you love and fuck the rest.”
The 2013 thriller Prisoners is one of the more disturbing movies I’ve ever seen and probably the most disturbing role that Paul Dano has ever acted in. In fact, in an interview with GQ, Paul Dano said that he didn’t really want to take the role because it was so dark. However, I’m thrilled that Paul Dano decided to take this role; it’s one of the most impressive displays of acting of his career.
Dano plays a young man named Alex Jones (no, not the fanatical maniac from InfoWars) who becomes a suspect in the abduction of two young girls. With no solid evidence against Alex, he’s never arrested. However, when the parents of the girls become convinced that Alex is guilty, he’s kidnapped and subjected to intense torture in an effort to elicit a confession. All in all, Dano’s ability to convey anxiety and fear through his speech patterns and body language in this film made it one of the most impressive performances of his career.
5. The Batman
One of the more recent additions to Paul Dano’s filmography, his strikingly original take on the character of The Riddler in the 2022 film The Batman is the scariest performance we’ve seen in the DC Universe since Heath Ledger’s rendition of The Joker. While Dano’s face is concealed for the majority of the film by a mask that looks like it was picked up from a military surplus store, his ability to deliver a bone-chilling performance shone right through.
Dano’s rendition of The Riddler is perfect for the Internet Age; he’s a lonely geek who feels isolated by society and decides to take his revenge by enacting a web-based revolution with countless casualties. Deep down, The Riddler is a coward; however, the destruction that he’s able to cause is simply terrifying. Dano’s ability as an actor is on full display in this role, especially in the way that he controls his inflection to deliver mortifying results.
Muy de acuerdo con la selección. Saludos desde nuestra web de Euromillones.