Paul Franklin Dano (born June 19, 1984) is an American actor and producer. He has appeared in films such as L.I.E. (2001), The Girl Next Door (2004), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), There Will Be Blood (2007), Gigantic (2008), Meek's Cutoff (2010), Cowboys & Aliens (2011), Looper (2012), Being Flynn (2012), Ruby Sparks (2012), Prisoners (2013), and 12 Years a Slave (2013).

Early life

Dano was born in New York City, New York, the son of Gladys (née Pipp) and Paul A. Dano. He spent the first few years of his childhood in New York City and initially attended the Browning School, while his father worked as a businessman in New York. While he was a child, Dano's family moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, finally settling in Wilton, Connecticut. Dano continued his education there at Wilton High School, graduating in 2002 and attending Eugene Lang College in New York City. He was involved in community theatre, and while performing in New Canaan, his parents were encouraged to take him to New York.


At age 10, Dano was noted for roles in classical plays on Broadway, making his debut at age 12 in a revival of Inherit the Wind along with George C. Scott and Charles Durning. He appeared in an episode of the sitcom Smart Guy and a minor role in the 2000 family drama The Newcomers.

Dano acted in his first major film role when he was 17, playing the character of Howie Blitzer, a teenage boy who becomes involved with a middle-aged paedophile, played by Brian Cox, in L.I.E. (2001). He then appeared in the TV movie Too Young to Be a Dad as a high school student whose life is disrupted when his girlfriend becomes pregnant. In 2004 he played a small role as young Martin Asher in Taking Lives with Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke. In 2005, he played supporting roles in The King with Gael Garcia Bernal, and The Ballad of Jack and Rose with Daniel Day-Lewis.

He came to greater attention in 2006, when he played a voluntarily mute teenager as part of an ensemble in the comedic drama Little Miss Sunshine, which received critical acclaim and collective awards for its cast. Dano's work with Daniel Day-Lewis led to a dual role opposite him in his next film, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, playing identical twin brothers Eli and Paul Sunday. This earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and brought him positive reviews, with Texas Monthly saying that his performance was "so electric that the movie sags whenever he's not around." and Peter Travers remarking "All praise to the baby-faced Dano...for bringing sly cunning and unexpected ferocity to Plainview's most formidable opponent."Rolling Stone magazine included Dano in its Hot List for 2007, calling his performance style "Daniel Day-Lewis + Billy Crudup × Johnny Depp."

Dano appeared in several additional Broadway productions including A Month in the Country, A Thousand Clowns at the Roundabout Theatre, and in the Ethan Hawke directorial debut Things We Want during its 2007 Off-Broadway run.

In 2008 he starred in Gigantic, a poorly-reviewed film about a man seeking to adopt a Chinese baby, co-starring Zooey Deschanel. He reunited with Brian Cox in 2009's The Good Heart, a low-budget English-language Icelandic film. He provided the voice of one of the creatures in the film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. He played a genius inventor in 2010's Knight and Day, an action thriller starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. The same year he appeared in Meek's Cutoff, a well-reviewed historical drama. In 2011, he had a supporting role in the big-budget science fiction film Cowboys and Aliens.

Dano appeared in three feature films in 2012: Ruby Sparks, as a writer whose fictional character (played by Zoe Kazan, the film's writer and Dano's girlfriend) inexplicably appears as a real person; time-travel thriller Looper, in a supporting role with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis; and with Robert De Niro in Being Flynn as the film's writer Nick Flynn, about his relationship with his father. Dano will play a younger version of the Beach Boys founder, Brian Wilson with John Cusack set to play an older version of Wilson in the upcoming biopic Love and Mercy.

Personal life

Dano is also a vocalist and lead guitar player in his band Mook. He has a younger sister, Sarah.



2000The NewcomersJoel
2001L.I.E.Howie BlitzerDirectors' Week Award for Best Actor
Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film
Stockholm International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
2002Too Young to Be a DadMatt FreemanTelevision film
2002The Emperor's ClubMartin Blythe
2004The Girl Next DoorKlitz
2004Taking LivesYoung Asher
2005The Ballad of Jack and RoseThaddius
2005The KingPaul
2006Little Miss SunshineDwayne HooverBroadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Young Performer
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer
Nominated — Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
2006Fast Food NationBrian
2007There Will Be BloodPaul Sunday / Eli SundayNominated — BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
2008Explicit IllsRocco
2008Light and the SuffererDon ("Light")
2008GiganticBrian Weathersby
2009Taking WoodstockVW Guy
2009The Good HeartLucas
2009Where the Wild Things AreAlexanderVoice
2010The Extra ManLouis Ives
2010Meek's CutoffThomas Gately
2010Knight and DaySimon Feck
2011Cowboys & AliensPercy Dolarhyde
2012Being FlynnNick Flynn
2012Ruby SparksCalvin Weir-Fields
2012For EllenJoby
201312 Years a SlaveJohn TibeatsBlack Film Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble
Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
Boston Online Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble (Runner-Up)
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated — Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated — Central Ohio Film Critics Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated — Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated — Georgia Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated — Gold Derby Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated — International Cinephile Society Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated — San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2013PrisonersAlex Jones
2014Love and MercyBrian Wilson


1998Smart GuyNicholasEpisode: "She Got Game"
2002–2004The SopranosPatrick Whalen2 episodes


  • Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards (2007, Best Young Actor for Little Miss Sunshine)

External links

  • Paul Dano at the Internet Movie Database
  • Paul Dano at The Good Heart Press Day
  • Paul Dano on Myspace