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How Paul Dano Used Physicality As A Way To Protect His Mental Health While Filming Prisoners

Paul Dano has had about as diverse of a career as any actor could hope for. From indie dramas like "Swiss Army Man" and "There Will Be Blood" to big blockbuster productions like "The Batman," it's clear that there really isn't a role that Dano can't handle. While he's turned in many acclaimed performances and was even nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in "Love & Mercy" (per NBC News), perhaps one of his most recognizable dramatic parts is in "Prisoners."

"Prisoners" focuses on the search for two kidnapped children, one of them the daughter of Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman). Dover abducts, imprisons, and tortures Alex Jones (Dano), the man he believes is responsible for the kidnapping. The film deals with some heavy themes, which can be hard for any actor to deal with while trying to get into character. Dano, however, used physicality to protect his own mental health while working on the movie.

Paul Dano didn't initially want to be in Prisoners

While breaking down his career for GQ, Paul Dano talked about his experience working on "Prisoners." It wasn't exactly an easy part for the actor. Dano revealed that he didn't initially want to step into the role of Alex, presumably because he was worried about the toll it would take on him. However, he found a way to make it work, and it actually came down to how he approached creating the character's physicality.

"I remember thinking, 'Okay, if you've had that much trauma as a kid, you know, what happens when we're scared? And what happens to our bodies? And just like, okay what would happen if you just kept living with that?'" Dano said. "So I think a way into that character for me was just through the physicality of how I held my body and my jaw even. Because I needed to find a way out for my own mental health. I needed to find a way to step in and out of that."

Associating the character with his physical traits allowed Dano to separate himself from the character he was playing. He found a way to protect himself, which is obviously a very important element of acting in such a disturbing film.