After garnering acclaim on the festival circuit, the Beach Boys biopic 'Love & Mercy' finally hits American cinemas this weekend (it opens in the UK next month), offering audiences a powerful glimpse into the complex mind of musician Brian Wilson.
Paul Dano with Brian Wilson and the cast of 'Love & Mercy'
In the early 1960s, Wilson formed the band with his brothers Carl and Dennis, his cousin Mike Love and their friend Al Jardine, adopting the surfer culture as an image (their earliest hits included 'Surfin'', 'Surfin' Safari', 'Surfer Girl', 'Surf City' and 'Surfin' USA'). And their 1966 album 'Pet Sounds' is regarded as one of the best rock albums of all time, featuring such classics as 'Wouldn't It Be Nice', 'God Only Knows' and 'Sloop John B'.
Wilson calls this "the greatest part of my life", even though he was already struggling with mental illness that he has said might have been brought on by drug use. But he has managed to continue writing and recording music over the years, to ongoing acclaim. His 11th studio album 'No Pier Pressure' was released in April.
Paul Dano and John Cusack play Wilson in 'Love & Mercy' at two periods in his life, and Wilson was uneasy watching some events recreated on the big screen. "It was very difficult because it brought back a lot of memories from when I was taking drugs and stuff," he says. "That's the part I didn't like. It's very factual and true to life, but rough to watch."
Although his wife Melinda admitted after the screening that Brian felt that "it was really a lot worse in real life".
Wilson spent quite a bit of time with both Cusack and Dano to prepare for the film (and Melinda has become great friends with Elizabeth Banks, who plays her on-screen). Cusack says they took the responsibility seriously to tell the story honestly. "Anybody who was on this movie," the actor says, "you just look in each other's eyes, you'd be like, 'We're all in, right?' This wasn't a money gig."
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