Paul Dano

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Paul Dano
Paul Dano at TIFF 2014.jpg
Born Paul Franklin Dano
(1984-06-19) June 19, 1984 (age 30)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor, film producer
Years active 1998–present

Paul Franklin Dano (born June 19, 1984) is an American actor and producer. He has received awards and accolades for roles such as Howie Blitzer in L.I.E. (2001), Dwayne Hoover in Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Paul & Eli Sunday in There Will Be Blood (2007), and John Tibeats in 12 Years a Slave (2013).

Early life[edit]

Dano was born in New York City, New York, the son of Gladys (née Pipp) and Paul A. Dano. He 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.[1][2] While he was a child, Dano's family moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, finally settling in Wilton, Connecticut.[1] Dano continued his education there at Wilton High School, graduating in 2002 and attending Eugene Lang College in New York City.[1] He was involved in community theatre, and while performing in New Canaan, his parents were encouraged to take him to New York.[1]


At age 10, Dano was noted for roles in classical plays on Broadway, making his debut at age 12 in a revival of Inherit the Wind along with George C. Scott and Charles Durning.[3] 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 17, playing the character of Howie Blitzer, a teenage boy who becomes involved with a middle-aged paedophile, played by Brian Cox, in L.I.E. (2001).[4] 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.

Dano in December 2007.

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 collective 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."[5] and Peter Travers remarking "All praise to the baby-faced Dano...for bringing sly cunning and unexpected ferocity to Plainview's most formidable opponent."[6] Rolling Stone magazine included Dano in its Hot List for 2007, calling his performance style "Daniel Day-Lewis + Billy Crudup × Johnny Depp."[7]

Dano appeared in several additional Broadway productions including A Month in the Country, A Thousand Clowns at the Roundabout Theatre, and in the Ethan Hawke directorial debut Things We Want during its 2007 Off-Broadway run.[8]

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 science fiction film Cowboys and Aliens.

Dano appeared in three feature 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. Dano will play a younger version of the Beach Boys founder, Brian Wilson with John Cusack set to play an older version of Wilson in the upcoming biopic Love and Mercy.

Personal life[edit]

Dano is also a vocalist and lead guitar player in his band Mook.[9] He has a younger sister, Sarah.[10][11][12]



Year Title Role Notes
2000 The Newcomers Joel
2001 L.I.E. Howie Blitzer Directors' Week Award for Best Actor
Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film
Stockholm International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
2002 Too Young to Be a Dad Matt Freeman Television film
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 Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Young Performer
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer
Nominated — Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
2006 Fast Food Nation Brian
2007 Weapons Chris
2007 There Will Be Blood Paul Sunday / Eli Sunday Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
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 Voice
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 Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
Boston Online Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble (Runner-Up)
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated — Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated — Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated — Georgia Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated — San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2013 Prisoners Alex Jones
2014 Love and Mercy Brian Wilson
2015 The Early Years Mick Boyle


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Smart Guy Nicholas Episode: "She Got Game"
2002–2004 The Sopranos Patrick Whalen 2 episodes
2015 Codes of Conduct Jared Rotmensen Second collaboration with Steve McQueen



  1. ^ a b c d MacEachern, Frank. "Spotlight again on Wilton's Paul Dano". Wilton Villager. 
  2. ^ "Fair Game – Paul Dano". Public Radio International. 
  3. ^ Ryzik, Melena (April 2, 2009). "Chasing Stardom, in No Particular Rush". New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  4. ^ Blunt, Emily. "Stephen Ryder Tells A Lie". Blunt Review. 
  5. ^ Kelly, Christopher. "Crude Truth". Texas Monthly. 35 (12):68–70. December 2007.
  6. ^ Travers, Peter. "There Will Be Blood." Rolling Stone. (1044):70. 2008-01-24
  7. ^ Savage, Lesley (2007-10-18), "THE NEXT GENERATION". Rolling Stone. (1037):76
  8. ^ Lipton, Brian Scott. "Dano, Dinklage, Hamilton, Kazan Set for New Group's Things We Want". Theatre Mania. 
  9. ^ Lee, Jinnie (2007-11-27). "Meet Mook". Nylon Magazine. 
  10. ^ Grandjean, Pat, "First People" column, item titled "The Buzz", Connecticut Magazine, November 2006, page 17
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Little Miss Sunshine. Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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