New England native Paul Franklin Dano got an early start on his career by acting on Broadway, even playing Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at age 12. After a few television appearances, he moved on to films for small roles in Animal Room and The Newcomers. His breakthrough performance came in 2001 as teenager Howie Blitzer in L.I.E., which earned him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance. He soon got picked for follow-up roles in The Emperor's Club with Kevin Kline and the TV movie A Family's Decision. After graduating from high school in June 2002, Dano planned on playing music with his Phish-like jam band Cherry Revision.