Spielberg’s Semi-Autobiographical Film: Paul Jano to Play Director’s Fictional Father

Paul Dano Joins Spielberg’s Autobiographical Film as Director’s Fictional Father

Paul Dano
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Paul Jano joins Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen in Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film about his family, playing a version of Spielberg’s father, Arnold.

The project is loosely based on Spielberg’s childhood in Arizona in the late 1950s and early ’60s, with Williams playing a version of his mother and Rogen portraying a version of his favorite uncle. Each of the characters will have a unique voice separate from the real people who serve as the inspiration.

The rest of the cast will largely be filled with young actors of varying ages, including the role of the boy inspired by Spielberg himself — though that character will not be named Steven.

Students of Spielberg’s life know just how critical his late childhood in Arizona was: it’s when he first started making Super 8 movies with his friends, and it’s when his parents’ marriage fell apart.

Spielberg co-wrote the screenplay with regular collaborator Tony Kushner. They are both also producing the film with Kristie Macosko Krieger, backed by Amblin Partners. Production will start in the summer, with a release planned for 2022, likely through Amblin’s existing distribution deal with Universal.

The director’s next project is another collaboration with Kushner, an adaptation of the musical “West Side Story,” starring Rachel Zegler as Maria and Ansel Elgort as Tony. The film was originally due to open last December, but was pushed to December 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dano will next appear as the Riddler in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” which is due to open on March 4, 2022.

Dano made his directorial debut in 2018 with “Wildlife,” an adaptation of the Richard Ford novel, starring Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, and co-written by Dano and his partner Zoe Kazan.