Director Paul Dano transforms Richard Ford’s ‘Wildlife’ into an classical, inner-life driven screenplay


14-year-old Joe is the only child of Jeanette and Jerry—a housewife and a golf pro—in a small town in 1960s Montana. Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and when Jerry loses his job—and his sense of purpose—he decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves. Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe witnesses his mother’s struggle as she tries to keep her head above water.


Wildlife, based on the novel of the same name by Richard Ford, was co-written and directed by Paul Dano (Little Miss SunshineThere Will Be BloodOkja). Timely considering the current disastrous California fires, Wildlife is a beautiful telling of the destruction of a relationship.

In this spoiler-free interview, Paul Dano and Dayna discuss why this book spoke to him as his first screenplay and directorial debut, what it was like directing Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan, his relationship with the author, and the phenomenal work of actor Ed Oxenbould.

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