While the new film Love & Mercy is very much about Brian Wilson, and was made with the Beach Boy member’s cooperation, it is no ordinary bio-pic. Rather than cover the legendary, and legendarily troubled, songwriter’s entire life the movie (out June 5) intercuts between two specific periods: the late ’60s, when a young Wilson (Paul Dano) starts to lose his grip on reality while constructing some of the band’s most famous songs and the ’80s, when an older Wilson (John Cusack) attempts to break away from the dubious care of psychotherapist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) with the help of his girlfriend and future wife Melinda (Elizabeth Banks).
“It was a matter of trying to figure out the best way to paint a portrait of this guy,” explains Love & Mercy director Bill Pohlad. “For me, there were two things that started it. Number one, obviously I was into Pet Sounds and knew that [was] the pinnacle of his creative process. So I wanted to deal with that. And then, as I was starting to get to know Brian and Melinda, Melinda told me the story of how they met. She didn’t know who he was, and actually thought he was maybe a homeless guy or something, but he was very charming, and it was only later that she found out he was Brian Wilson. That intrigued me as being a good way into the story. So, that’s how it started—with intertwining those two core storylines and periods.”
Pohlad reveals that while Cusack had a lot of contact with Wilson during the film’s production, Dano did not. “We kind of agreed that it would not be a good idea for him to necessarily spend a lot of time with Brian,” says the filmmaker. “Because Brian today is a lot different from Brian back in his twenties. Instead, we used a lot of archival material footage and interviews and things like that. John was a different story. That era is marked more by idiosyncracies and the way Brian behaved. It was good that he got to spend enough time with him to kind of take on some of those affectations.”
You can see the new trailer for Love & Mercy below.