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Part Of Paul Dano's Secret To Acting Is Being 'Willing To Embarrass Yourself'

Actor Paul Dano has been racking up an impressive resume ever since his childhood. These days, he's nabbing enviable roles in films like Steven Spielberg's semiautobiographical "The Fabelmans" and Matt Reeves' "The Batman." He's developed a reputation for his ability to expertly curate his performances, and GQ recently wrote of his filmography, "There are no obvious misses. No performances that leave a fan wondering what the hell this was all about." Indeed, whether he's befriending a corpse opposite Daniel Radcliffe in The Daniels' "Swiss Army Man" or leading an animal rights group in Bong Joon-ho's "Okja," he blends into the performance as if he's been inside that world all along, waiting for viewers since before the first frames appear onscreen.

But Dano's carefully studied acting style didn't come overnight. The 38-year-old made his debut in the Broadway revival of "Inherit the Wind" at age 12. It wasn't long before he was working under directors like Spike Jonze and Ang Lee. And in a new interview, Dano revealed that the secret to his acting is being willing to embrace a performance in the moment, even if it means embarrassing himself.

Paul Dano says you ultimately have to let go and dive into a scene

Appearing on the interview show "Hot Ones," Paul Dano explained that no matter how much prep work he does for a scene, there's always a time when the director yells action, and he has to trust his instincts. "I do not think the first thing I want to do is embarrass myself, but you got to be willing to embarrass yourself," Dano said, further explaining that, while working on "The Fabelmans," there were times when he knew his only choice was to give himself over to the moment. "There were times when I would just have to say, 'I'm just gonna have to do it on action.'"

Dano elaborated that when the cameras started rolling, he simply had to trust that all of the study and preparation he did for the role of Steven Spielberg's father would carry him through once the time came to act. "It's going to come out," Dano said. "You do all this work ... Some of that is you're just trying to build up a reservoir of stuff to let out."

But the final ingredient in Dano's acting recipe is believing in the reality of the role by any means necessary. "It's like, 'Okay, I'm Burt,'" the actor said, referring to his character of Burt Fabelman in "The Fabelmans." "Whatever it takes for you to believe that."