Starting out on Broadway at age 12 playing Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Paul Dano later got his breakout role as Howie Blitzer, a troubled teen with family issues in the independent feature, L.I.E. (2001; opposite Brian Cox). He went on to co-star in The Emperor's Club (2002; opposite Kevin Kline), The Girl Next Door (2004; alongside Emile Hirsch), Taking Lives (2004; with Angelina Jolie) and The King (2005; with Gael García Bernal and William Hurt). Recently, he played supporting roles in 2006 films Fast Food Nation and Little Miss Sunshine. His upcoming projects include There Will Be Blood and Where the Wild Things Are (voice).
Aside acting, the 5' 11˝" tall is the lead guitar and vocals in the band Cherry Revision. He also provides vocals and lead guitar for the band Mook.
Childhood and Family:
In Wilton, Connecticut, Paul Franklin Dano was born on June 19, 1984. He has a younger sister named Sarah whom he likes to drive on a typical Saturday. On his free time, Paul likes to go over his friend's house, 'jam' in the basement, and hang out somewhere. His favorite actor is Edward Norton and his favorite movies are Fight Club and American History X.
Paul graduated from high school on June 22, 2002.
Graduating from high school in 2002, Paul Dano moved to New York to pursue a music career with his band, Cherry Revision. Meanwhile, he tried to get a job at three different McDonald’s restaurants, but failed. He recalled: “I didn’t get the job, which is really surprising. But I have friends who worked in fast food restaurants.”
Subsequently, Paul turned to stage actor and landed supporting roles on Broadway, including in “A Month in the Country” alongside Helen Mirren, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with Roddy McDowall and Hal Linden (12-year-old Paul played Scrooge), and “Inherit the Wind” opposite George C. Scott and Charles Durning. Afterward, he moved on films and got a bit part as Joel in James Allen Bradley's family drama starring Christopher McCoy, The Newcomers (2000; also featuring Kate Bosworth and Chris Evans).
2001 saw Paul with his breakthrough performance as Howie Blitzer, a troubled teen with family issues who became involved in a relationship with a much older man in Michael Cuesta's independent feature, L.I.E. His role in the film, which also stars Bruce Altman, Billy Kay and Brian Cox, earned Paul an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance, as well as Best Actor at the Fantasporto, L.A. Outfest and Stockholm Film Festival.
"Everything you do, every experience that you have, enlightens you a little bit or worsens you. L.I.E. was big for me. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve been a part of in my life so far." Paul Dano.
Following his breakout performance, Michael Hoffman cast Paul to play Martin Blythe in his adaptation of Ethan Canin's short story "The Palace Thief," The Emperor's Club (2002) alongside Kevin Kline and Emile Hirsch. He then starred as Don (a.k.a. Light) in Christopher Peditto's sci-fi drama film based on Jonathan Lethem's short story, Light and the Sufferer (2004), and reunited with Hirsch, playing his best friend named Klitz, in Luke Greenfield's coming-of-age comedy The Girl Next Door (2004; also starring Elisha Cuthbert). He also joined such stars as Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland and Gena Rowlands in D.J. Caruso's drama-thriller inspired by Michael Pye's novel, Taking Lives (2004), playing the young Asher.
Meanwhile, TV viewers could catch Paul as a 15-year-old who gets his girlfriend (played by Katie Stuart) pregnant but begins to rethink his decision on putting the unborn baby up for adoption, in father's point of view TV-movie Too Young to Be a Dad (2002; a.k.a. A Family's Decision). He was also spotted as a guest in a 2002 and 2004 episode of the long-running TV series starring James Gandolfini, "The Sopranos."
In 2005, Paul became Catherine Keener’s son in writer-director Rebecca Miller’s drama film The Ballad of Jack and Rose (with Daniel Day-Lewis and Camilla Belle on the title role), and portrayed William Hurt’s Bible-thumping son in James Marsh's independent drama The King (starring Gael García Bernal). The next year, he co-starred with Nick Cannon and Mark Webber in writer-director Adam Bhala Lough's drama film Weapons, and was cast by Richard Linklater to play an alienated teenager named Brian in his ensemble drama Fast Food Nation, alongside Wilmer Valderrama, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Greg Kinnear. That same year, he also reteamed with Kinnear in Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' ensemble road movie Little Miss Sunshine (also with Alan Arkin, Toni Collette and Steve Carell), playing Dwayne, a rebel son who has vowed not to talk until he gets into the Air Force.
“It’s great but it’s surreal though too. I don’t think I’ve been in a movie that that many people have seen before. I’ve always stuck to independent films so it’s strange. It’s a new thing for me. Hopefully, people will respond to the performance in Little Miss Sunshine. The movie’s done well and brought an increased level of awareness of me as an actor. We’ll see what effect it has. I certainly think there’s a similarity between my characters in Fast Food Nation and Little Miss Sunshine, in terms of anger. I think Brian’s looking for an easy way out and I think the character in Sunshine wants to invest himself in something he feels passionate about. Like most teenagers, there’s a level of anger and alienation and all that stuff.” Paul Dano (on Little Miss Sunshine (2006)).
Paul will soon complete his upcoming project, Paul Thomas Anderson's take on Upton Sinclair's novel, There Will Be Blood, in which he will co-star with Daniel Day-Lewis. He will also provide his voice in Spike Jonze's animated movie adapted from Maurice Sendak's classic children's story, Where the Wild Things Are.
Aside acting, Paul also continued his passion in music. Besides being the lead guitar and vocals in the band Cherry Revision (based out of Wilton, Connecticut), he also provides vocals and lead guitar for the band Mook.
"I have a band (Cherry Revision) and we’re going to play at New York City’s Wetlands this summer, which is kind of cool for us. Most of it is acoustic rock with congas and bongos, lots of vocal harmonies with a reggae influence and Phish-type sound." Paul Dano.
And when asked why he chooses acting over music, Paul once explained: "I think I'd be too stubborn and have to do it on my own terms. There's a lot of hope in music and there are some really amazing artists out there, but as far as popular music goes, a lot of it is just not for me. So I don't know where I'd fit in or whatever."