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Paul Dano to play Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson

The Associated Press, Thursday, January 17, 2013, 5:00pm (PST)

The Hollywood Reporter -- Paul Dano will step behind the mic to star in "Love & Mercy," River Road Entertainment'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.

River Road's Bill Pohlad, known primarily as a producer behind such movies as "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 as he became more creatively ambitious, his mental health began to decline, which led to many mental health treatments and caused great friction within the group, culminating with him leaving the band.

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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.

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 the first time Pohlad is directing since 1990, when he helmed the drama "Old Explorers."

River Road is now in production on "12 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 "August: Osage County," starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor. The movie will be released by The Weinstein Co. this year.

Dano, who may 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 now 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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