‘Little Miss Sunshine’ directors, producers and costar will reunite for a new film


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EXCLUSIVE: Five years after it came out, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ remains the yardstick by which so many indie films are measured: a small movie made with first-time directors that blew up at Sundance, became a box-office sensation and an Oscar best picture nominee.

Many indie films try to match its spirit. Now some of its principals will match the dramatic comedy in more literal ways.


Paul Dano, who starred in the road-trip hit, is set to star in a film called ‘He Loves Me’ that’s written by and will costar his real-life girlfriend, Zoe Kazan. He’s hardly the only ‘Sunshine’ element: The movie will be directed by ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris — the oft-pursued filmmakers who haven’t made a movie since — and produced by Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, who were the driving producer forces behind ‘Sunshine.’

‘He Loves Me’ tells of a young novelist who achieves success early in his career but begins to face struggles. In a bid to overcome writer’s block, he is told to write the woman he thinks will love him. He winds up willing her into existence. (Think ‘Adaptation’ meets ‘Weird Science.’)

Reached by phone, Berger said that there were plenty of commonalities in tone, if not in story, to their earlier hit. ‘The plot couldn’t be more different than ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ ‘ he said. ‘But in terms of a movie with comedy, with heart and with strong characters, I think it’s very similar.’

And there’s this: Dano will play a tortured soul not unlike his Nietzsche-loving teenager from ‘Sunshine.’

Dayton and Faris are famously deliberate about their directing assignments. Although the filmmakers, who are also known for their commercials, have been attached to several movies, they have not directed a movie since ‘Sunshine’ five years ago.

As for Kazan, the actress — she’s starred in ‘Savages’ and ‘It’s Complicated,’ as well as numerous stage productions — has written before, though mostly for the stage.

Kazan has already completed a draft of the script, and Dayton and Faris are developing it with her. The rest of the cast is expected to be rounded out soon. Berger and Yerxa are keen to make it one of their next projects and will likely, though not definitively, go the independent-financing route. The VW bus rolls on.

— Steven Zeitchik