Dano off the big screen, not off the radar

In-de­mand ac­tor dis­ap­pears from movie roles to di­rect Wildlife, star on Broad­way and have a child

StarMetro Vancouver - - DAILY LIFE - Reg­gie Ugwu

To the scabrous pile of break­downs, shut­downs and scan­dals that will memo­ri­al­ize

2018, a hum­ble sub­mis­sion: Paul Dano, ac­claimed 34-yearold ac­tor, did not ap­pear in a sin­gle movie.

Granted, this might seem a mi­nor point in the grand scheme. But con­sider this: To find an­other 12-month span in which dis­cern­ing movie­go­ers were de­prived of even one Paul Dano per­for­mance — in more gen­er­ous times, there were as many as four — you would have to go all the way back to 2003, a year when Ben­nifer, Sad­dam Hus­sein and the Chingy song “Right Thurr” were on top of the world.

To be fair, Dano didn’t plan things to work out this way.he loves movies and they love him right back. For the past decade and a half, he’s been a con­stant, an­i­mat­ing (if not al­ways showy) pres­ence in a run of good and strange films, many in­volv­ing a win­ning bingo card of the great con­tem­po­rary di­rec­tors: Paul Thomas An­der­son, Steve Mcqueen, Ang Lee, Spike Jonze, De­nis Vil­leneuve.

That it’s not Dano’s face — a cheru­bic, in­verted teardrop — that first comes to mind when you think of these movies (There Will Be Blood, 12 Years a Slave, Pris­on­ers) is a tes­ta­ment to his most durable gift. Film­mak­ers and au­di­ence mem­bers alike be­lieve he is one of them.

And now he re­ally is a film­maker, with the re­lease last fall of Wildlife, Dano’s metic­u­lous and evoca­tive di­rec­to­rial de­but, adapted from the 1990 Richard Ford novel and star­ring his old friends Carey Mul­li­gan and Jake Gyl­len­haal. That’s why the ac­tor failed to visit you at the mul­ti­plex last year — he was busy re­al­iz­ing a life­long dream.

But that’s not all. Hunker­ing in the edit­ing bay of Wildlife, he missed the phys­i­cal­ity of per­for­mance. So he ac­cepted an of­fer — and put on 20 pounds of mus­cle — to play a tena­cious, con­victed mur­derer who tun­nels his way out of prison in the seven-episode Show­time lim­ited se­ries Es­cape at Dan­nemora with Beni­cio Del Toro.

And there’s more! Re­ally, Dano has never been so busy. Dan­nemora shot for a gru­elling six months in up­state New York. Dur­ing that time, an­other old friend and neigh­bour, Ethan Hawke, sent him an ef­fu­sive text about col­lab­o­rat­ing on a re­vival of the ven­er­ated Sam Shep­ard play True West. Dano just couldn’t re­sist — his cup ran­neth over. And so he closed out the year in yet a third medium, star­ring op­po­site Hawke in the Roundabout The­ater Com­pany’s Broad­way pro­duc­tion, which be­gan pre­views Dec. 27 and In 2018, ac­tor Paul Dano di­rected his first film, starred in a ca­ble se­ries and re­turned to Broad­way in “True West” at the Amer­i­can Air­lines The­atre.

opens Jan. 24.

Twelve months, no movies and an em­bar­rass­ment of riches. And none of his pro­fes­sional ac­com­plish­ments com­pare to his most per­sonal one, the one that in­spired Hawke to ob­serve in a phone in­ter­view that his friend was “truly be­com­ing him­self”: Paul Dano be­came a dad.

“I didn’t think I would like it so much; I mean, I thought I would like it, but it’s re­ally quite as­ton­ish­ing,” he said. “There’s just a sort of ... I don’t know, a hope or some­thing. See­ing some­thing so in­no­cent and pure and un­sul­lied by the world.”

Con­tinue read­ing at thes­tar.com/movies

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