Steven Spielberg continues to cast his own family for his next project, and he’s zeroed in on a phenomenal actor to play a version of his father: Paul Dano. Spielberg is co-writing and will direct a movie inspired by his childhood as his next project, and the first role cast was that of his mother, to be played by Michelle Williams. Next up Spielberg enlisted Seth Rogen to play the role of one of his favorite uncles, and now Amblin Entertainment reveals that Dano will play a character inspired by Spielberg’s father.
The film, written by Spielberg and his frequent collaborator Tony Kushner (Lincoln), will draw from the legendary filmmaker’s childhood but will also have its own separate and original voice. Spielberg grew up in Arizona, making home movies with his siblings as a kid. But crucial to his upbringing was his parents’ separation, which is explored thematically in a number of his films. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, for example, is as much a film about divorce as it is about companionship with an alien.
The twist here is that up until the 1990s, Spielberg was under the impression that his father had left his mother. But in reality, his mother had fallen in love with another man, and rather than let the kids resent their mother, Spielberg’s father took the blame and kept the real reasons of their separation secret. This is why you see a turn in Spielberg’s father-figure roles starting with Catch Me If You Can, which pits the separation on the mother and portrays a much more sympathetic father-figure in Christopher Walken.
It’ll be interesting to see how or if Spielberg explores his parents’ divorce in this film, but Dano and Williams make quite the pairing. Dano most recently wrapped the role of The Riddler in Matt Reeves’ highly anticipated upcoming film The Batman, but also made a fantastic directorial debut himself with the drama Wildlife a couple of years back.
Production on Spielberg’s untitled next film starts this summer ahead of a 2022 release. But first, Spielberg’s musical debut West Side Story hits theaters in December.