Steven Spielberg Just Cast A The Batman Star As The Director's Fictionalized Father

Paul Dano in Okja

While Steven Spielberg as recognized as one of the most impressive genre-diverse filmmakers of all time, there are some themes that can be viewed as connective tissue between his projects, and a prominent one is issues with father figures. From E.T. The Extraterrestrial, to Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, there are many movies made by Spielberg that explore those kinds of relationships. It's with that context in mind that we are particularly fascinated that Paul Dano is now set to join the director's next project, as the actor is set to play a fictionalized version of Spielberg's own father in what has been described as a semi-autobiographical movie.

Steven Spielberg is set to make the untitled film has a follow-up to his upcoming remake of the musical West Side Story, and in recent weeks it has been getting some incredibly talented actors to sign on. The first star cast was Michelle Williams, who is on-board to play a fictionalized version of the director's mother, and a few weeks ago it was announced that Seth Rogen has made a deal to play a version of Spielberg's favorite uncle when he was growing up. Now The Hollywood Reporter is saying that Dano is set to participate as well.

Interestingly, Amblin Partners – which is behind the film – seems to be taking extra steps to ensure that movie-fans don't get the wrong idea and think that Dano's performance entirely represents what Steven Spielberg's father was like. In a statement to the trade, the company wrote that the character will be presented "with a separate and original voice."

Arnold Spielberg, who passed away last August at the age of 103, was a massively influential figure in young Steven Spielberg's life, and provided his son with an 8mm camera that inspired the future director's love of filmmaking. As noted in the trade, the filmmaker's mother and father got a divorce when he was young, and it "strained the relationship" with his son.

While Paul Dano has had the opportunity to work with some fantastic directors in his career, including Paul Thomas Anderson, Steve McQueen, Bong Joon Ho, Jon Favreau, and Rian Johnson, this will be the first time that the actor has had the opportunity to work with Steven Spielberg (though they do share a credit as the filmmaker was an executive producer on Cowboys And Aliens). Audiences actually haven't seen Dano in theaters in a few years, as he's been working on small screen material – like the miniseries Escape At Dannemora and War & Piece – and making Netflix movies like Okja and the upcoming The Guilty, but that drought will end early next year.

We don't know a whole lot about his role in the plot of the film, but the next time we see Paul Dano on the big screen he will be portraying Edward Nashton/The Riddler in Matt Reeves' The Batman. We may not see much of his face, as it appears that the character has a habit of wrapping his head in duct tape, but that frankly only makes us more excited to see what he does with the mysterious character.

Though West Side Story isn't set to be released until December 10, 2021 (after originally being a part of the 2020 schedule), Steven Spielberg will be starting work on his semi-autobiographical film this summer, and the plan is to have it come out some time in 2022.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.