Paul Dano is an American actor, director, screenwriter, and producer. He has been nominated for an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and has won a Critics’ Choice Award and a Satellite Award for his work in film.
Dano was born in New York City, the son of Gladys (née Pipp) and Paul A. Dano. His father is of Italian and Slovak descent, while his mother is of Irish ancestry. Dano has a younger sister, Grace. He was raised in the Catholic faith. Dano spent his early childhood in Montclair, New Jersey, where he attended Edgemont Elementary School, before moving with his family to New Canaan, Connecticut, when he was eight years old.
Dano began his acting career on stage at the age of twelve. He appeared in an off-Broadway production of The Second City’s “Don’t Drink the Water” in 2002. In 2004, he made his film debut with a minor role in L.I.E., and had his first leading role in the independent film Little Miss Sunshine the following year. He also appeared in the films The Girl Next Door (2004), The King (2005), Fast Food Nation (2006), and Knocked Up (2007).
Dano’s breakout role came in the film There Will Be Blood (2007), for which he received critical acclaim and won several awards, including the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor. He subsequently appeared in the films Meek’s Cutoff (2010), Cowboys & Aliens (2011), Being Flynn (2012), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Prisoners (2013), Love & Mercy (2014), and Swiss Army Man (2016).
In 2017, Dano made his directorial debut with the film Wildlife, based on the novel of the same name by Richard Ford. He also wrote and starred in the film alongside Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal. His second directorial effort, Prisoners of the Ghostland, is set to premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Dano has been in a relationship with actress Zoe Kazan since 2007. They have two children together: a daughter born in 2016, and a son born in 2018.
Date Of Birth
June 19, 1984
Musician, Film producer, Actor
Wilton High School
Paul Dano, Gladys Dano
Zoe Kazan, Zoe Kazan
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actor, Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance, BFCA Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor, Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor, Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Ensemble Performance, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Satellite Award for...
Swiss Army Man, Love & Mercy, Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, Ruby Sparks, Prisoners, 12 Years a Slave, Looper, Youth, Being Flynn, The Girl Next Door, Cowboys & Aliens, For Ellen, Knight and Day, The Good Heart, The Extra Man, Okja, Meek's Cutoff, Taking Woodstock, The Ballad of Jack and...
I want to get better and I want to do more. It's less about stardom and more about being somebody who wants to help create work I want to see.
When you play a part like that, so far from yourself, it's a turn-on. There's this mystery to be solved. That's my biggest challenge as an actor, figuring out what brought this person to where we meet them.
Taking Woodstock (2009), which is a small part, was basically just to spend a couple days on set with Ang Lee, who I admire a lot, just because I feel like he's doing something different, every time out. I feel like he hasn't lost the hunger to try new things. I really admire that and would like to, as an actor, be that way. I'd also want to make a film someday, so getting a chance to work with directors who I like is really important, because I definitely want to make a film or two.
(On if he watches his own films) Yeah, I like to see things once just to have closure. Anything beyond that, I don't know. It's probably not a good thing. Then I start to pick away at myself, you know? Maybe there's something you can learn from it, but I kind of like to see things once, just to know what the movie is. I feel like a lot of the films I do, part of the reason I like doing them is I'm not 100 percent sure what it's going to be. It's exciting. I read an equal amount of very generic scripts, and you kind of know exactly what those are and that doesn't whet my appetite. I already know what it is or I already know what the character is. It's just a lot harder to get interested.
Cereal. I love cereal. I eat several bowls a day, mostly a few late at night. Crispix, Honey Nut Cheerios, Kashi, and Oh's are a few favorites.
[on working with Steve Carell] "I knew Steve from The Daily Show (1996) and that funny scene he had in Bruce Almighty (2003). I didn't maybe know him by name at that point, but I was just like, "That dude is hilarious!". He's genuinely a very down-to-earth, sweet guy. I have a lot of respect for him. We became good friends. Nobody was really on a pedestal or anything. When you're working with people you look up to and they put you on the same level, it makes your job a little easier, confidence-wise. I never felt nervous, it was just a lot of fun".
[on preparing for his role in Little Miss Sunshine (2006)] "In my house, I tried not talking for a couple days and it was almost impossible to be at a dinner table with my parents and not point out to them what I thought was silly that they were saying. You just want to rebel! It was so difficult".
[on working with Daniel Day-Lewis in the movie, The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)] "It was incredible. I mean, Daniel Day-Lewis and I were enemies in the movie. I'm the "snake" and his daughter Rose is the "rose". You couldn't get any more opposite from the character I play in (The Girl Next Door (2004)) than the one I play in that. I'm the villain, the snake, sleazy and like this sexual creature. There were days when we wouldn't even look at each other until the end of the day because we were intense. I got into that; it was great. It would help me, too. You know, I look up to him. Before I even auditioned for the movie I did, so it was incredible.
Everything you do, every experience that you have, enlightens you a little bit or worsens you. L.I.E. (2001) was big for me. I think it's one of the best things I've been a part of in my life, so far.
[on why he chooses acting over music] "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."
Paul's paternal grandparents, John Dano and Anna Herzo, were both from Slovak families that immigrated to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Paul's mother is of half Austrian (including Bohemian/Czech) and half Swedish descent.
Was ranked #5 on Entertainment Weekly's '30 Under 30' the actors list. (2008).