Jun 022015

What's right and wrong about the casting of Paul Dano as Brian Wilson?

What’s right and wrong about the casting of Paul Dano as Young Brian Wilson?

A new biopic on Brian Wilson is coming out, Love & Mercy. I will likely dread seeing this, as is the case with almost any artist biopic, but I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to rock biopics and I do like John Cusack, who I read was set to star as the troubled genius behind the Beach Boys and the puppet for a succession of hangers-on, charlatans, and certainly well-intentioned healthcare professionals and adoring musicians. Then I saw this still from the movie. “That’s not John Cusack,” I exclaimed in my head, “it’s that creepy guy I don’t like!” I had to look him up to be sure: Paul Dano, a talented actor with a knack for playing troubled, annoying guys, but an actor worthy of the shotgun nevertheless.

It turns out Dano plays Young Brian Wilson, which I’m sure he’ll be good at, subtly projecting even Young Brian’s obvious anxieties. The more I studied this still from the movie, however, the more I started thinking about the Pros and Cons of this casting decision. I’ll leave it to you to get inside my head—and to share your thoughts on the casting of Dano and Cusack as one of the greatest songwriters of the 1960s.

Check out the whole cast here. I don’t know who the guy is who’s playing Mike Love, but I’m counting on him to deliver!


  12 Responses to “What’s Right and What’s Wrong About the Casting of Paul Dano as Young Brian Wilson?”

  1. tonyola

    I’m less concerned about who plays Brian Wilson than I am about the movie itself. It’ll be interesting to see how they cram all the drama/trauma of Brian’s life into two hours. What will be left in and what will be taken out?

  2. I have low expectations for this flick, but I devour all things Beach Boys so I will be seeing it in the theater. I found it interesting that Dano and Cusack didn’t interact during the making of the movie, so evidently both will have their own personal take on portraying Wilson

    I like Cusack too (Grosse Pointe Blank is a favorite of mine) but I am also interested in the guy playing the hard workin’ drummer Denny Wilson. Dennis Wilson’s life story would make a helluva movie.

    P,S. The director Bill Pohlad’s family owns the Minnesota Twins!

  3. BigSteve

    I love the Beach Boys, but I don’t see any possibility that this movie won’t be cringe-worthy. I can’t picture myself watching this.

  4. cherguevara

    Hey Guys,

    Check out this interview, interesting stuff about Brian and the Beach Boys, including the below anecdote.


    You know how kids in public, even if they’re hiding behind their mother’s leg, will just keep staring at you? That’s Brian.

    We were in the dressing room at this fundraiser in New York, and Don Henley and Timothy Schmidt from The Eagles walked in. And Timothy was very nice, but Don was just kind of aloof and walking around the room. And finally, after a few minutes of chatting, Don pulls out a copy of Pet Sounds on CD that he wants Brian to sign.

    So Brian grabs it and he signs, “To Don, thanks for all the great music.” And he’s handing it back to Don, but before Don can take it, he grabs it back and he crosses out “great” and puts “good music.” [Laughs.] And the thing is, there’s no irony there. He’s not being funny. He’s really thinking, “I wrote ‘great,’ but I don’t think it’s great. But it’s good. It’s good music.” And he handed it back to Don, and it was perfect.

  5. That was a good read, thanks. Great Eagles story!

  6. ladymisskirroyale

    Paul Dano is an inspired choice, just to keep you watching the movie. He has an interesting face: it’s sort of like an arresting train wreck, one which you can’t turn away from. Sort of like Benedict Cumberbatch. In our household, we joke around about Paul Dano because Mr. Royale remembers him as his student oh so many years ago in high school. He had the lead in the high school’s production “Oliver” so has had some experience singing/dancing.

  7. ladymisskirroyale

    This just in, Mr. Royale is having a conniption fit because Paul Dano is playing the role of Pierre in a tv production of “War and Peace.”

  8. Here’s my main problem with the casting of Dano, a problem that runs deeper than my general annoyance by his (albeit talented) presence: he’s got no hips, no ass! A Beach Boys biopic needs some cushion for Brian and Carl Wilson.

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    I dunno, man. I kind of lost all interest in rock biopics once I got turned on to the Rushnychok flick. Who needs drama? I just want to feel the good feelin’.

  10. Very good review of this movie in today’s Inquirer by Steven Rea, who is generally reliable. Maybe it’s mot so bad.

  11. cliff sovinsanity

    As per Rotten Tomatoes:
    “Critics Consensus: As unconventional and unwieldy as the life and legacy it honors, Love & Mercy should prove moving for Brian Wilson fans while still satisfying neophytes.”

    Maybe I can convince my nephew to go see Love & Mercy next Tuesday instead of his original choice of the Entrourage movie.

  12. saturnismine

    My take on this film is that there are two reasons to watch;

    – if you’re a serious Beach Boys knucklehead, then you have to know about the film and how it impacts the thinking on Brian Wilson.

    – If you think Paul Giamatti’s a consistently first rate actor who is capable of singlehandedly raising the grade of a film, then you can’t help but be curious as to how he portrays Landy.

    I’ll be checking it out this weekend. Can’t wait, even though I suspect it won’t be so great.

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