The first time Paul Dano and Brian Cox worked together, Dano was 16 and Cox played a mentor with a pedophiliac lust for the teen in “L.I.E.” Eight years later they’re working together in “The Good Heart,” and Cox is Dano’s mentor, but without the creepy stuff.
“There’s certainly a paternal figure in both, but it’s interesting that the ‘L.I.E.’ experience was more like ‘The Good Heart’ relationship,” Dano says. “Certainly this go around, I felt much more of a friendship and kinship with Brian.”
In “The Good Heart” Dano is an amiable homeless man befriended by Cox’s grouchy bar owner. Dano’s role as a silent, smoldering type seems to be a recurring theme. There was his breakthrough part in “Little Miss Sunshine” as a teenager taking a vow of silence, his seemingly pious minister Eli Sunday in “There Will Be Blood,” and his turn as a quiet man overwhelmed by Zooey Deschanel’s charm in “Gigantic.” For Dano, the role in “The Good Heart” was a refreshingly earnest change of pace.
“I liked the part [in ‘The Good Heart’] because I feel like there’s probably more cynical characters and cynical people than there are outright kind ones,” Dano explains. “To me, it’s almost a modern epidemic. I just feel like everyone’s got a f—ing opinion about everything.”