Paul Dano is hardly a newbie at the whole acting-with-movie-legends thing, having shared screen time with Daniel Day-Lewis and Harrison Ford, among others.
But there are legends and then there are legends. And Robert De Niro, the 27-year-old Dano's co-star in the new flick "Being Flynn," definitely falls into the latter category.
Brooklyn resident Dano plays Nick Flynn, the son of destitute writer Jonathan (De Niro), in a movie about their troubled relationship.
The film, an adaptation of the real Nick Flynn's memoir "Another B------- Night in Suck City," was written and directed by Paul Weitz and opens in theaters on Friday.
amNewYork spoke with Dano about the film.
You've worked with a lot of great actors, but were there any nerves when it came to working with De Niro? When you get the part, you sort of go, "Oh s---, I'm going to work with De Niro - that's awesome!" And you're excited. [The] first time meeting him, he gave me a big old bear hug, and I just sort of immediately felt disarmed. He was warm and kind to me. Then you have that kind of initial rush.
Did that feeling come back at all during the shoot? There were a couple days when we had big scenes where I'm walking home at the end of the day and going to myself, "S---, I just spent 12 hours doing a great scene with Robert De Niro." Every now and then, I allowed myself to have that pleasure.
Do you feel more of a sense of responsibility when you're playing a character based on a real person? I think so. Certainly it was interesting to sort of decipher what pieces of the real Nick I could use and what didn't feel right for me, because he's obviously very different now than he was then. And the memoir was a resource. And also Paul Weitz, because he adapted it - I think when you adapt something, a piece of yourself goes in there.
You seem predisposed to taking on challenging parts. Why is that? That's what excites me. When you read something and you feel the fire, so to speak, or you feel like, "Boy, I know I can do this, but I don't know how." ... That's the biggest turn-on in the world to me. ... Maybe I'm just a masochist. It has to be hard; otherwise, I just don't enjoy it.