PARK CITY -- Look closely at actor Paul Dano. You might see a little Sabbath in there.
The actor -- who also happens to be an active musician -- looked to artists like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Ozzy for his role as touring musician Joby in Sundance pick "For Ellen." Joby is more of a modern radio rock guy in a band still "making it," so Dano also listened to those brand of bands while driving around L.A.
"Not my cup of tea," he told me during our interview at the film festival. But, after driving the Strip, "I kinda got it."
"For Ellen" focuses its lens on the other side of the cutthroat industry, the quiet moments in homes with a daughter without a dad, when the money doesn't come in for support. It gently extrapolates on what happens when a rocker isn't rocking.
It was certainly a change of pace for co-star Jon Heder, who plays a mother-whipped small town lawyer aiding Joby through the sale of his and his ex's house.
"It was the quietest I've ever been on a film set," said the man whose most recognizable role is Napoleon Dynamite. "With these indie filmmakers, the directing styles are so different... I wanna do more."
One of the loudest parts of the small-budget drama is, delightfully, a dance sequence: Joby gets drunk at a bar and starts dancing with himself to White Snake. It's almost surreal, with a track so essentially hair metal that is very seriously performed and sensually portrayed. Joby, for once, seems to be in his element. And Dano put himself in the elements of Joby in preparing for the scene. He got drunk in his motel room and worked a little something out the night before.
"[Method acting] would make it sound smarter than it actually was," he laughed.
Check out the rest of the interview above, with more info on what's next for Heder's "Dynamite" TV project, Dano's Robert DeNiro collaboration for "Being Flynn" and a creative combo with his girlfriend for a new film shooting later this year with the directors of "Little Miss Sunshine."
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