Valerie Faris

Mister Rogers

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Beloved childrens’ entertainer and TV personality Fred Rogers, Mister to you and me, will be getting the big screen treatment via Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The duo is tackling an adaptation of “I’m Proud of You,” a memoir by Tim Madigan that follows a curmudgeonly father and husband whose life is forever changed after meeting Mister Rogers. Honestly, wouldn’t your life be changed, too? Based on that early description, the film sounds a lot like another upcoming film featuring a famous whimsical man that’s not a biopic, John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks. Jaded protagonist meets revered children’s icon and their life takes a positive spin? We’ll have to wait for the trailer before making big judgements, though. The project seems like it will be in good hands – Dayton and Faris’ debut film Sunshine earned them two Oscars and two more nominations. Ruby Sparks didn’t get the same acclaim, but was charming nonetheless. Now for the big question – who to don the holiest of cardigans and sneakers and play Mister Rogers himself? [The Wrap]

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Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris don’t make your average summer comedies. In 2006 their surprise hit Little Miss Sunshine involved a deteriorating marriage, a druggy grandfather, a suicidal uncle, and, of course, a mute Paul Dano – all comedic trappings that hardly approach light fare. Their return after a six year theatrical release absence, Ruby Sparks, is no different. Although the trailers and TV spots hint at a quirky and charming love story, Ruby Sparks is nothing of the sort. When your lead is a narcissistic, immature, unlikable, and slightly nihilistic writer whose manic pixie dream girl is his own boyish creation, you’re not exactly making How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Ruby Sparks, in the same vein as Dayton and Faris’ previous feature, is a story about failure, how to bounce back from it and, more importantly, how to also make it funny. Here’s what Dayton and Faris had to say about Ruby Sparks not being a comedy, the creative importance of facing problems, and how their film represents the modern man-children of the world:

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Paul Dano interview

“I don’t really know what kind of actor I am,” Paul Dano said when we spoke to him a few weeks ago while discussing his latest film, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farsis‘s mildly dark romantic comedy Ruby Sparks. When Dano stated such, it came as a bit of a surprise, particularly because Dano has always come off as an actor who goes fairly deep into a character, from reading books to finding a character’s favorite band. What was also obvious is that he isn’t the artistically tortured character we see him play in the film. The character, Calvin, is a bit of a jerk: a narcissistic, condescending, and neurotic nerd who wants control over everything. Dano, who spoke of his fear over expectations and other Ruby Sparks-related themes, seemed satisfied leaving all that control in the hands of all the accomplished directors he’s worked with. Here’s what Ruby Sparks’ star Paul Dano had to say about the nice surprises you get when making a film, his process for creating a character, and the time he wrestled with Spike Jonze on the set of Where the Wild Things Are:

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Ruby Sparks tells the story of a young writer (Paul Dano) who seemingly creates his dream girl out of thin air (and his writing) and is then able to control her through said writing. This curious tale is further heightened thanks to a magical score from composer Nick Urata (Crazy, Stupid, Love), which bounces from feeling hopeful to ominous to almost dangerous. The score succeeds in grabbing the audience’s attention from its first note and does not let go until its very last. With the soundtrack for Ruby Sparks released just yesterday, I spoke with Urata about his process creating the film’s score, how effected he was after seeing only the first cut of the film, and how that led to him getting the gig as the film’s composer.

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Directorial team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are finally returning to the big screen for the first time since 2006′s Little Miss Sunshine with one of the summer’s most anticipated indie releases – the Zoe Kazan-penned Ruby Sparks. Also starring Kazan, the film centers on Paul Dano‘s character, a once-successful young author who is felled by some intense writer’s block and a dismal love life. When he starts writing about a new character, Ruby, Calvin’s spark comes back – but everything is thrown into disarray when he discovers Ruby (Kazan) in his apartment – his creation brought to life. Is it love? Magic? Or both?

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Zoe Kazan‘s feature writing debut, Ruby Sparks, already has enough going for it that I’ll forgive its new name change – to Ruby from its working title, He Loves Me, which feels a bit less movie-of-the-week and a touch more substantial. Title issues aside, Kazan’s first foray into screenwriting sees the return of directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (helming their first feature since 2006′s Little Miss Sunshine), is marked by a talented cast (Paul Dano, Kazan, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould, Chris Messina, and Deborah Ann Woll), and comes with a plotline that’s a thought-provoking twist on the romantic comedy. So why the name switcheroo? Well, it’s either something that’s far too-on-the-nose, or it’s meant to denote the full name of Kazan’s character, who is so far known to be just “Ruby.” But that on-the-nose? It could just mean that she sparks something, forming the entire basis of the film. And what does she spark? Only a little literary inspiration and her entire existence.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the day’s best movie news and links exploding onto your computer screen. Can you handle that? MSN has debuted a new image of two new characters from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. “Two of the youngest Dwarves, Fili (Dean O’Gorman) and Kili (Aidan Turner) have been born into the royal line of Durin and raised under the stern guardianship of their uncle, Thorin Oakensheild. Neither has ever travelled far, nor ever seen the fabled Dwarf City of Erebor. For both, the journey to the Lonely Mountain represents adventure and excitement. Skilled fighters, both brothers set off on their adventure armed with the invincible courage of youth, neither being able to imagine the fate which lies before them.” Quick, get me a Tolkein nerd to translate that. Are these guys cool, or not? Because they look cool.

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Good news for people who like backlashing against things that get popular; Fox Searchlight has signed Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris to make their first film since their breakthrough indie Little Miss Sunshine made a bunch of money and helped launch Steve Carell and Paul Dano’s film careers back in 2006. This new project, called He Loves Me, is being written by and will star Zoe Kazan. Her real life beau, Dano, will re-team with the Sunshine directors to star as the male lead. Also, there have been some rumblings that Jeff Bridges is being looked at to play another role. There’s yet to be any word on what this one will be about, but it has to be seen as a get for Fox Searchlight regardless. It’s been five years since Dayton and Faris made Little Miss Sunshine, and they haven’t been able to successfully get another project together since. The last time Searchlight took a chance on this duo there was money to be made, press to be generated, and Oscar nominations to be had. With that amount of big expectations behind it, He Loves Me is bound to be a project worth keeping our peepers on going forward. [Deadline Placitas]

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Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis are in final negotiations to star in the upcoming Paramount comedy Will, the second film from the team that brought you Little Miss Sunshine.

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