Paul Dano to Star as Brian Wilson in 'Love & Mercy' (Exclusive)

1:36 PM PST 01/17/2013 by Borys Kit
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Paul Dano, right, will play Brian Wilson in the biopic.

UPDATED: Bill Pohlad has been tapped to direct, and Atticus Ross, who won an Oscar for his work with Trent Reznor on the score for "The Social Network," is in talks to design the film's soundscape.

Paul Dano will step behind the mic to star in Love & Mercy, River Road’s unconventional biopic of Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson.

Meanwhile, Atticus Ross, who worked with Trent Reznor on the Oscar-winning score to The Social Network, is in talks to compose the film’s soundscape.

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River Road’s Bill Pohlad, known primarily as a producer behind such movies as The Tree of Life and Into the Wild, is sitting behind the camera as director for the feature.

Love & Mercy tells the story of Wilson, who became the leader of the 1960s rock group as well as their lead songwriter, penning such classics as "Surfin' U.S.A.," "California Girls" and "Good Vibrations." But even as he became creatively more ambitious, his mental health began to crack. That led to many treatments and caused great friction within the group, culminating with him leaving the band.

Pohlad secured Wilson’s life rights and that of his wife, Melinda. The script, by Oren Moverman, focuses on Wilson’s fight with mental illness and his relationship with his wife.

The project is taking an off-the-beaten-path approach to telling the story, looking at the seminal moments in Wilson’s life, his art, his struggles and the love that kept him going. The movie, covering several decades of Wilson's life, will see two actors playing the musician. Dano will portray the younger version. The older Wilson has not been cast.

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Ross will work on the sound design of the film as well as its soundtrack, which will of course include Wilson’s music.

John Wells and Claire Rudnick Polstein are producing via John Wells Productions. Pohlad also is producing. An early-summer start is being eyed.

The movie will be Pohlad's first directing effort since 1990, when he helmed the drama Old Explorers.

River Road is now in production on Twelve Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Dano.

Wells just wrapped directing and producing the all-star adaptation of the Tony-winning play August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor. The Weinstein Co. will release the movie this year.

Dano, who might be best known for starring opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, starred in last year’s dramedy Ruby Sparks. He also memorably appeared (and disappeared, body part by body part) in Looper. The actor is shooting Prisoners, the Alcon thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. He is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Stone Meyer.

Ross, whose credits also include The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is repped by CAA.

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