Paul Dano: A Serious Man

"Being Flynn" is in theaters now.

Paul Dano’s made a career out of playing quiet, thoughtful young men, most famously in “Little Miss Sunshine” and as twin brothers in “There Will Be Blood.” In this year’s “Being Flynn” he is the conflicted homeless shelter counselor and future author Nick Flynn in the film adaptation of Flynn’s memoir, “Another Bulls—t Night in Suck City.”

In the film, Dano faces down the man and the legend of Robert De Niro, playing Flynn’s gregarious father who, after two decades of estrangement, faces his son again when he’s down on his luck, checking into the very homeless shelter where Flynn works. Most of the time the two actors spent together was captured on screen, considering both prefer to spend their time between takes, focusing on their characters.

“In between takes or scenes sometimes you don’t want to be chatty with people and so an easy way to just say that is to just put in headphones. We had a good working relationship because we are both sort of that way,” Dano explains of his relationship to De Niro. “Our characters meet in the film, so we didn’t need to get to know everything about each other before hand. We both were well prepared and wanted to do our best, so most of what I remember about Bob is from what happened in front of the camera.”

To prepare for his role as a shelter counselor, Dano naturally took some time to hang in the soup kitchen, and the experience, as a native New Yorker, got him thinking about his first exposure to urban poverty.

“It brought me back to when I was a kid here and when you don’t understand the concept of homelessness, how completely upsetting it is,” he says. “I remember seeing a boy who was homeless on the street with somebody else and crying because of it when I was little, you know, so it was weird to be brought back to that place, not because you get use to it, but because it’s a part of everyday.”

Defying expectations
You’ve played a serious type very often. What kind of character would you like to play next?
“Usually people tell me what they expect of me and it’s never what I think so that’s interesting because for me, each experience is so singular. I would like to do a really broad comedy at some point so, I don’t think that’s something expected of me. I would like to do something where I really get to go make an ass of myself, you know, and be silly.”


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