(Screenshot: YouTube)

He’s been appearing in stage and film productions for two-thirds of his life, making his Broadway debut at 10, but at 32, actor Paul Dano (he of “I’ve abandoned my child!” fame) is taking on one of the biggest challenges of his career. He’s adapting and directing an independent drama called Wildlife, based on the 1990 novel by Mississippi-born novelist Richard Ford. The somber-sounding film, produced for rookie outfit June Pictures, marks Dano’s inaugural directing and screenwriting efforts.

Variety reports that the film is already assembling an impressive cast, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan set to star. Gyllenhaal and Dano are also serving as producers for the still unscheduled film, along with Andrew Duncan, Alex Saks, Riva Marker, Oren Moverman, and Ann Ruark. No other cast members have been confirmed as of this writing, and it is unclear whether Dano himself will be appearing in the film. Though a newbie to directing, Dano has produced films like For Ellen and Gigantic in the past.

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But why this particular project for his feature directing debut? Ford’s novel, described as “disturbing” in The New York Times, deals with the dissolution of a marriage as seen from the perspective of a child. Gyllenhaal and Mulligan will presumably play the unhappy couple. “In Richard’s book I saw myself and many others,” says Dano. Okay, then. “I couldn’t be happier to have such beautiful collaborators like Carey and Jake leading the way.” Wildlife doesn’t exactly sound like a laugh riot, but it could develop into an interesting and worthwhile project. Gyllenhall and Dano last worked together in the generally well-received 2013 Hugh Jackman crime thriller Prisoners.