Rising star: Paul Dano, actor

Paul Dano, actor

Connecticut-born Paul Dano, 23, made a big impression with few words in Little Miss Sunshine in 2006, playing a sullen teenager. Now he's riveting as a preacher with a great deal to say in Paul Thomas Anderson's oil epic There Will Be Blood

'He's a bit of an actor himself,' Dano says of character Eli Sunday, a minister who delivers intensely physical sermons. 'I felt those people were in the palm of my hand,' he recalls.

Dano also relished going head to head with Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays a demonic oilman, although: 'Daniel's character is so terrifying, I'm not sure how much I had to act.'

He was on Broadway at 14, and won an Independent Spirit Award for his first movie role in L.I.E. in 2001. And he's been Bafta-nominated for his role in There Will Be Blood

Dano enrolled to study English at New York's prestigious New School in 2005, the same year he starred in The King and alongside Day-Lewis in The Ballad of Jack and Rose

He may be in Spike Jonze's forthcoming adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, but Dano says his private life is anything but wild. 'I'm a total schmuck. Not many of my friends are actors, and the idea of becoming a celebrity is very unattractive.'

· There Will Be Blood is released on 8 February


Killian Fox

The GuardianTramp

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