Paul Dano has worked with quite a few high profile directors over the years. Paul Thomas Anderson. Steve McQueen. Denis Villeneuve. Bong Joon-Ho. Rian Johnson. Spike Jonze. Richard Linklater. That’s only naming a handful. The 32-year-old actor continuously builds an exceptional resume for himself, and it was only complimented with Swiss Army Man, which currently sits as my favorite film of the year. So he’s ready to take on the next step: the director’s chair. The prolific performer will make his directorial debut with Wildlife, based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Richard Ford.
As Variety notes, the coming-of-age drama centers on a teenage boy who watches his parents’ marriage come apart after they move to Montana. Perhaps not the most riveting synopsis in the world, but Dano provides a sensitivity, patience and observance in his acting that will very likely translate well in his work on the other side of the camera. He adapted the screenplay alongside Zoe Kazan, his real-life partner and co-star in 2012’s Ruby Sparks, which she wrote. Kazan will also executive produce while Dano produces. Also producing are Oren Moverman and Ann Ruark, who both previously worked with Dano on last year’s underseen Love & Mercy. Also attached to produce is Alex Saks of June Pictures.
At this moment, neither Kazan nor Dano are expected to act in the film, and there are currently no actors attached to the project at this time. There’s no production date announced at this time either. More details should come momentarily, however. While it’s impossible to know for sure how this one will turn out, Dano’s past work — along with all the great filmmakers he has worked with — suggests he’s poised to become an exceptionally bright independent filmmaker, one with a great depth of empathy, delicacy and susceptibility that should serve him well in this youthful story. I truly hope for the best.