NPR logo

Actor Paul Dano, 'There Will Be Blood'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/17926946/17926940" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Actor Paul Dano, 'There Will Be Blood'

Interviews

Actor Paul Dano, 'There Will Be Blood'

Actor Paul Dano, 'There Will Be Blood'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/17926946/17926940" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Paul Dano Bryan Bedder/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Paul Dano

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

In Paul Thomas Anderson's new film There Will Be Blood, the young actor Paul Dano plays a rural preacher at odds with the oilman (Daniel Day-Lewis) at the center of the story.

Dano previously appeared in Little Miss Sunshine, playing the teen who was an elective mute.

'There Will Be Blood'

Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, a film based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel Oil. Francois Duhamel/Paramount Vantage hide caption

toggle caption
Francois Duhamel/Paramount Vantage
  • Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Genre: Drama
  • Running Time: 158 min

Watch Clips

'I Will Bless the Well'

'There Will Be Blood' Trailer

To music that sounds like a hive of angry bees, Daniel Day-Lewis falls down an oil well he's digging and breaks his foot — his left foot — in the opening moments of Paul Thomas Anderson's oil epic. Based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel Oil, about a clash of capitalism and religion at the turn of the last century, this sometimes magnificent, decidedly strange film is a portrait of a terrible, rapacious man.

The American Dream, or perhaps simple greed, has turned him into a sociopath, though there are moments when he seems briefly empathetic — adopting the infant son of a fellow well-digger who's killed in an accident, or opening up his life to a stranger who shows up claiming to be a brother he never knew he had.

These flashes of humanity don't turn out well, however, and the character's as hard to like as he is hardbitten. A young preacher played obsessively by Paul (Little Miss Sunshine) Dano is no easier to warm up to. And few other performers make much impression. But the imagery — an oil boom town is built before your eyes, then nearly burns down in a Western landscape that seems a character in its own right — is undeniably powerful.

Anderson, an indie director with a streak of intriguing art-film hits to his credit (Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love) proves to have a real eye for epic filmmaking, though with a screenplay that sometimes goes for half an hour without a word being spoken, an extreme, violent ending, and a running time that stretches to 158 minutes, that film ends up seeming a blunter instrument than it might.

Related NPR Stories