As Joby Taylor in "For Ellen," he is ravaged by failure but determined to make up for his past follies. The film, directed by So Yong Kim, tells the story of a young father and failed rock star who loses custody of his daughter Ellen (Shaylena Mandigo) in a bitter divorce battle. With the help of a selfless lawyer (Jon Heder -- "Napoleon Dynamite") and his supportive girlfriend (Jena Malone) he attempts to overturn the court's decision.
Earlier this month, Dano participated in a round-table discussion about the film and talked about his methods of preparation for the film.
Since music is a key portion of Joby's character, the actor immersed himself in modern rock music prior to filming.
"I didn't think of this film as a music film, but this character comes from that world," says the actor. " In terms of trying to incorporate that into the work, I started with some bands that I liked that Joby would also like -- which are mostly older bands -- like AC/DC and Guns and Roses -- and then I started getting into the scene that he's a part of. Modern hard rock music is not something that I'm attuned to, so listening to that stuff was interesting. I was watching music videos and looking at pictures and trying to get something from that."
Dano also found that adopting Joby's offbeat style was a major catalyst for his performance.
"Cloths can make you feel a lot different. Jewelry can affect how you feel as well. Just putting that into practice is such a simple, easy thing that you can do that (affects your performance)," says Dano. "If you're a woman and you put on high heels, it can make you feel different immediately. So, there was a physical aspect to it."
Though inspiring, Dano's meager wardrobe was proved to be insufficient attire for a typical East Coast winter. During the low budget film's 18-day shoot, the temperature dropped to below zero and he was stricken with a fever that landed him in the hospital.
Despite falling ill, the actor says that the weather was important to the film's overall tone.
"It was hard. I was in skinny jeans and a little leather jacket but I don't mind the cold," says Dano. "I think that landscape just fits the story though. If it was a sunny summer day, it probably wouldn't have felt as right for what the character is experiencing.
The 28-year-old, who also served as the film's executive producer, will next appear in the high octane sci-fi thriller "Looper" and the Steve McQueen directed drama "Twelve Years as a Slave."
"For Ellen" is currently in select theaters and available for download on VOD.