In Steven Spielberg’s newest film, The Fabelmans, getting the casting just right was crucial. The semi-autobiographical drama centers on the famed director’s upbringing in the United States after World War II and how he reconciled differences with his family to follow his dream of becoming a filmmaker. He used a stand-in, Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), to examine how his artistic mother and meticulous father had shaped his life. It was then crucial that Spielberg cast actors who could embody their physical likenesses and personalities. When talking to The Hollywood Reporter, he stated emphatically that Paul Dano most represents his late father, Arnold Spielberg.
Dano’s casting as Spielberg’s mild-mannered, benevolent father may seem out of character, given his recent performances. In Matt Reeves’ The Batman, he played the Riddler, and the performance caused quite a stir. From There Will Be Blood and Twelve Years a Slave to the even stranger Swiss Army Man, he had always favored more serious and offbeat roles. He’s not entirely unfamiliar with comedic roles, having starred in the romantic comedy Ruby Sparks. After hearing rumors about Dano’s fury while not in character, Spielberg asked him about portraying the part of his father.
Dano expressed extreme apprehension at Spielberg’s request that he participate in a firelated Zoom call. When he was cast as the director’s father in The Fabelmans, he felt ready and so excited that his chest jumped at the thought of it. The director, hearing the actor’s voice for the first time, also knew instantly that he had made the right choice and got emotional at how much the actor reminded him of his father during their first call.
Dano, it seems, made no sacrifices in his attempt to represent Spielberg’s father convincingly. They spent a lot of time talking about Zoom, and the actor tried to understand Arnold’s perspective. He became interested in electronics while on site and ordered a crystal radio set to put together; this sparked a lifelong passion that eventually led him to become an accomplished engineer. Throughout his award-winning career, he has shown that he can adapt to various characters. Still, given the significance of this picture to Spielberg, it appears that Dano has taken special care to embody this character.
Additional Information on Families Fabelman
The film also stars Michelle Williams as Mitzi Fabelman, based on Spielberg’s mother, Leah Adler, and co-stars Paul Dano and Patti LaBelle. Apart from Jeannie Berlin, Julia Butters, Robin Bartlett, and Keeley Karsten, the cast includes Seth Rogen and Judd Hirsch. Spielberg teamed up with Tony Kushner, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in drama and most recently a partner on West Side Story, to write and produce Spielberg’s pet project.
The Fabelmans, starring Dano as Spielberg’s father, will premiere in limited cinemas on November 11 before expanding nationwide on November 23 in time for the holiday.