Paul Dano explains how Nirvana influenced his portrayal of The Riddler in The Batman, discusses singing with The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson and Al Jardine

Kurt Cobain and Paul Dano as The Riddler
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc via Getty / Warner)

Actor Paul Dano has discussed how Nirvana influenced his particularly terrifying portrayal of The Riddler in Matt Reeves' The Batman movie earlier this year. The film, which features a reworked version of Nirvana's Something In The Way in its soundtrack, was released in March to generally positive reviews, with plenty of praise directed at Dano's off-the-rails take on one of Batman's most legendary foes.

Appearing on hot sauce-driven interview show Hot Ones last week, Dano was asked by host Sean Evans how Something In The Way shaped his interpretation of The Riddler, who was last played on the big screen by Jim Carrey (1995's Batman Forever). 

"Something In The Way is a great song," Dano replies, "and I listen to a lot of Nirvana. That chorus for me, was, like...Something In The Way...what are we all trying to get through? And I think it's about the two sides of trauma, and one person had a little more resources to deal with their trauma — Bruce Wayne. And my guy just didn't quite have the nurture but didn't have the nature either, if we are being real."

Dano also discusses the moment he got to share the stage with two other musical inspirations of his - The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. The trio teamed up to sing a Beach Boys classic, You Still Believe In Me, at a special DVD release show for Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy in LA in October 2015. Dano portrays the younger version of Wilson in the film. 

"That was pretty cool," Dano enthuses. "I mean, I love that song. I chose it; they said, 'What song do you wanna sing?' and for some reason, that track really gets me. I think it's the second track on Pet Sounds, I don't know if I can remember at this point, but [it's] maybe my favourite experience I've had as an actor, Love & Mercy, and I think it's 'cause of the music."

"You know, I was nervous," he adds of the performance itself. "But I think it went well enough. Brian was a super sweetie to me."

Dano was on Hot Ones to promote his appearance in new Stephen Speilberg film The Fablemans, which was released earlier this year to critical acclaim.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.