The Batman’s Paul Dano explains how he tackled his weirdest role yet in a new Netflix sci-fi movie: a giant alien spider

(Image credit: Netflix/Getty Images)

Paul Dano has tackled everything from a classic Batman villain to a Steven Spielberg drama in his career so far, but Spaceman offers him his weirdest role yet. The Netflix sci-fi movie stars Dano as an alien spider called Hanuš, who has been hiding in the shadows of Adam Sandler’s spaceship.

The actor, who takes on one of his first voiceover roles with the film, tells GamesRadar+ and the Inside Total Film podcast that he was sold from the first pitch. "I loved the idea and then I loved the execution of it too," he smiles. "Just, you know, Adam Sandler alone on a spaceship talking to a giant spider, already you want to see it or want to read it."

His character in the film is a creature from the end of time, drawn towards a connection with astronaut Jakub Procházka. As the pair navigate being the only two beings at the edge of the galaxy, the film follows them as they share meditations on life, death, and love.

"I sort of loved that he was like this death doula, a spirit guide, Zen-like sort of guy who's lived through all this time and all these galaxies," Dano adds. "I like that the film was about the mystery in ourselves, and I feel very much that science fiction allows for that thing: you're out here in space, but really you're alone on the inside."


(Image credit: Netflix)

Dano is well known for delving deep into his character’s backstories when preparing for roles. For his part as the Riddler in The Batman, he created a history for his character, which was later made into a comic book series run. His approach to Hanuš was also rigorous, but slightly different, he says.

"First of all, I took everything that's in there at complete face value, meaning I remember Johan [Renck, director] asking me when we first met, 'Do you think Hanuš is real?' And I was like, 'Well, of course'. I don't think there's a way to play somebody who's not real [and] I actually really liked what was there in terms of his little backstory, which is that his civilization has been lost and that he's been traveling for thousands of years and that he himself has headed back towards the beginning."

Dano adds that this is something he felt he could relate to. "I really felt like, 'I don't know that I'd want to go back to the beginning alone,' and I think that he discovers some human feeling called love through Jakub. Each character is a little different, each piece is a little different and I think you have to follow what that thing is asking you for what is leading you towards it, but yeah, generally you want to build a little life."

He wasn’t the only one exploring a character unlike he’d worked on before either as the film features Sandler’s most dramatic part yet. Sandler also tells us about working with the director to bring "zero Adam Sandler" into his performance.

Spaceman arrives on Netflix on March 1. For our full chat with Sandler and his co-star Dano, listen to the Inside Total Film podcast, out this week.

We also have a list of the best Netflix movies and the best sci-fi movies to stream now.

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.