SAG Awards nominee profile: Paul Dano (‘The Fabelmans’) seeks first solo and second ensemble wins

Sixteen years after he won his first Screen Actors Guild Award as a “Little Miss Sunshine” cast member, Paul Dano is now in the running for his second ensemble and first individual honors from the organization. These dual notices have come for his featured performance as a fictional representation of writer-director Steven Spielberg’s father in “The Fabelmans.” Although most of his supporting challengers are also up for this year’s ensemble prize, his past victory may give him a leg up in both races.

Dano is now a four-time SAG Award nominee, as he also previously picked up a cast bid for 2013’s “12 Years a Slave.” The three men he currently faces in both the film supporting actor and ensemble contests are Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and “The Banshees of Inisherin” pair Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan. Unlike Dano, they are all SAG Awards newcomers. The final supporting slot is filled by Eddie Redmayne (“The Good Nurse”), who is new to the category but has already won lead actor for 2014’s “The Theory of Everything” and ensemble for 2020’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

SEE Full list of SAG Awards nominations

In “The Fabelmans,” Dano plays the titular family’s patriarch, Burt, whose dedication to providing a stable yet unexciting life for his wife and four children blinds him to their opposing artistic ambitions. As much as he loves his wife, Mitzi (Michelle Williams), and son, Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle), the strait-laced electrical engineer continually struggles to comprehend why they devote their time to what he considers impractical endeavors.

At 38, Dano would be the sixth youngest supporting actor winner in SAG Awards history. Heath Ledger, who was honored for his work in 2008’s “The Dark Knight” one year after his death at 28, holds the category’s low-end age record and is in no danger of losing it this year. Those who would rank between him and Dano on the list are Cuba Gooding Jr. (29, “Jerry Maguire”), Daniel Kaluuya (32, “Judas and the Black Messiah”), Christian Bale (37, “The Fighter”) and Paul Giamatti (a slightly younger 38, “Cinderella Man”).

Dano can also join a group of 15 men who have won ensemble and solo SAG Awards for different films. Aside from Giamatti and Kaluuya, who initially triumphed alongside their respective “Sideways” (2004) and “Black Panther” (2018) co-stars, the supporting members of this club who won their cast awards first are Robin Williams (ensemble: 1996’s “The Birdcage”; solo: 1997’s “Good Will Hunting”), Tommy Lee Jones (2007’s “No Country for Old Men”; 2012’s “Lincoln”) and Brad Pitt (2009’s “Inglourious Basterds”; 2019’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”).

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “SAG Awards nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2023 contenders in film and TV.

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