Paul Dano on ‘Ruby Sparks’: “Once we were filming, it was all [my character] for me”

paul-dano-ruby-sparksActor Paul Dano found himself surrounded by familiar faces during the production of his latest film, Ruby Sparks.  He co-stars with his real-life girlfriend Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the script, and the movie is directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, the husband-and-wife team who directed Dano in his breakthrough role in Little Miss Sunshine.  But as Dano tells Oregon Live, “The more personal it is the more fun I seem to have.”

Dano reveals that during the writing process it was no secret that Kazan was writing the script as a vehicle for the couple.  Dano says, “About three to five pages into reading it for the first time, I said, ‘Are you writing this for us?’ And she said ‘Yeah.’ She would show me pages and I’d try to a) be a good boyfriend and b) be a good bounce-board and ask good questions.  But I didn’t want to have a say in it, because I like to be surprised, and I want to be challenged, and it was better to engage her in talk about the whole thing and not just about Calvin.”

In order to ensure that the film remained faithful to Kazan’s script (and to ensure their casting in the leads), Dano needed to step up his role in the production, serving as sort-of uncredited producer.  He explains, “We knew that we wanted to be in it, but we also knew that we wanted to see it get made in the right way.  So it was important to us to be involved to a certain degree, and mostly that meant sending it off to the right people to start with. Jonathan and Valerie were our dream directors and out first choice.  And from that point on it was a collaboration: getting involved in more aspects of the filmmaking process than I normally do as an actor — casting and little parts of pre-production.”  He admits that the process had an impact on him and has piqued his interests, adding, “I’d like to be able to help get more films made that I’d want to appear in or want to see or that I think I have something to offer an audience.  I’d like to be more proactive in that.”

But Dano has no plans to abandon acting to switch to the other side of the camera.  He professes his love for acting, saying, “Once we were filming, it was all Calvin for me and that’s how it would always have to be.  Setting up the film and helping find the right people was where my producing duties fell, and then, when you’re working with people you trust, you don’t have to worry about small things.  Finding people you share a point of view with is what’s important.  On this film, I was working with people who I had a rapport with and a friendship with and trusted 1000%, but at the same time we were doing something new together, and we had an intimate collaboration.”

Ruby Sparks is now playing in limited release

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