Bill Pohlad's film about the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson has been coming together for about eighteen months now, and perhaps the most important piece in the development puzzle has now fallen into place. Paul Dano has signed on to play the troubled musician in Love and Mercy. He'll get to cover Wilson's creative heyday, while another actor is still being sought to portray Wilson in more recent years.
Wilson's ride has been a tough one. The driving force behind surfin' birds The Beach Boys, he knocked out hit after hit in the early '60s, and shepherded the seminal Pet Sounds album to worldwide acclaim and classic status. But the collapse of the ambitious follow-up Smile was the catalyst for a downward spiral ino depression and substance abuse that lasted for decades. There's a happy ending though: in the last fifteen years or so he's enjoyed improved health and a revived music career, which included Smile's belated completion and release.
Plenty of material for a bopic, in other words, although a straight life story is not quite Pohlad's intention. "What's fascinating to me is to look at the different elements in his life, like that super-creative period when he was doing Pet Sounds and the later part when he was redeemed."
Oren Moverman, who was behind I'm Not There, which split Bob Dylan's life into constituent parts and saw him essayed by multiple actors, has written the Love And Mercy screenplay. That seems significant, although we wouldn't expect his Wilson film to be quite so off-the-wall. Atticus Ross, who collaborated with Trent Reznor on the music for The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, has signed up to oversee the soundtrack.
"I am thrilled that Paul Dano has signed on to play me during one of my most creative explosions and most fulfilling musical times in my career," Wilson said in a press release. "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! It just makes me feel so humble. I can't wait to see it with a full tub of buttered popcorn."