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Paul Dano to play Brian Wilson; producer Bill Pohlad to direct

January 18, 2013|By Nicole Sperling
  • Paul Dano, on the set of the movie "Ruby Sparks," has signed on to portray musician Brian Wilson in the upcoming film "Love and Mercy."
Paul Dano, on the set of the movie "Ruby Sparks," has signed on… (Merrick Morton )

Indie staple Paul Dano ("Ruby Sparks," "There Will Be Blood") has been tapped to play a young Brian Wilson in a new film titled "Love and Mercy." The actor will collaborate on the production -- which is scheduled to begin in early summer -- with an impressive pedigree of talent.

Oren Moverman, who co-wrote and directed "The Messenger" wrote the script, which is said to take an unconventional look at seminal moments in Wilson's life, while musician Atticus Ross is in talks to compose the film's soundtrack and sound design.

The former Beach Boy, now 70, has endorsed the project saying, "I am thrilled that Paul Dano has signed on to play me during one of my most creative explosions and most fulfilling times in my career."

Perhaps the biggest wild card is the helmer of the project. Academy Award-nominated producer Bill Pohlad will direct the film in addition to producing it. Pohlad, through his financing/production company River Road Productions, has had a fruitful producing career in Hollywood, behind such critical successes as "Into the Wild" and "Tree of Life." He also served as executive producer for "Brokeback Mountain" and the Valerie Plame story "Fair Game."

Yet, the switch from producer to director has not been an easy transition for most. Though Pohlad has directed before, helming commercials and documentary projects, including one on musical artist Prince and baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, his first feature, the 1990 film "Old Explorers" starring Jose Ferrer and James Whitmore, earned only a limited theatrical release and was then screened on Showtime.

Pohlad is following in the footsteps of quite a few other producers who have tried their hand at directing to mixed results. Irwin Winkler, the producer of such movies as "Raging Bull," the "Rocky" franchise and "Goodfellas," had much less success standing behind the camera on such pictures as the 2001 family drama "Life as a House" or the 2006 film war movie "Home of the Brave" starring Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Biel.

Some producers have made a more seamless transition to directing.

Stanley Kramer was a prolific producer of such Oscar-nominated films as "High Noon" and "Cyrano de Bergerac," which ironically landed Ferrer his only Oscar. His directing career proved successful, too, with such classics as "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "The Defiant Ones" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

Alan Pakula was also successful in both fields. producing "To Kill a Mockingbird" before directing such hits as "Sophie's Choice" and "All the President's Men."

More recently, producer and New Line founder Bob Shaye struggled in his directing effort, the 2007 family-friendly film "The Last Mimzy," which grossed only $21 million.

Pohlad has surrounded himself with A-list talent, which should bode well for the producer.

Plus, it looks like he's already got a fan in Wilson: "I still can't believe how cool it is that my life will be portrayed on the big screen and to have Bill Pohlad as the captain of the Sloop John B is amazing," he said in a statement.

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