Valley of the Boom: Dakota Shapiro talks playing Stephan Paternot

Dakota Shapiro as Co-founder Stephan Paternot in National Geographic's VALLEY OF THE BOOM. (National Geographic(National Geographic/Ed Araquel)
Dakota Shapiro as Co-founder Stephan Paternot in National Geographic's VALLEY OF THE BOOM. (National Geographic(National Geographic/Ed Araquel) /

Valley of the Boom star Dakota Shapiro dished to Hidden Remote about playing 1990’s Internet icon Stephan Paternot in the NatGeo miniseries.

Valley of the Boom is coming to an end, but not before a few more big surprises about how the Internet boom turned into a bust. What was it like to play one of the central figures in the Nat Geo miniseries?

Dakota Shapiro, who portrays founder Stephan Paternot, connected with Hidden Remote ahead of Sunday’s finale to talk about what went into bringing Paternot’s story to life and what his favorite moments to play were.

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Learn more about him and his role in our interview below, then don’t miss the final two episodes of Valley of the Boom when they air at 9 p.m. tonight on National Geographic. And if you need to catch up, you can watch the full first episode at the bottom of this article.

Hidden Remote: How did you prepare for Valley of the Boom, and was there something about Stephan Paternot that made you interested in playing him?

Dakota Shapiro: I started by reading [Paternot’s] autobiography. And then actually, I reached out to him and he agreed to meet. I asked him a whole bunch of questions about the time period, about technology at that time, kind of how everyone was feeling about it. I really wanted to learn what he was really feeling during that time.

He made me a playlist and I used him as a resource a lot. I just wanted to see what his greatest strengths were, and what came across to me was his ability to communicate and his enthusiasm and his vision. I really wanted to capture that because for a young man, I thought it was quite exceptional what he did at the age that he did.

HR: The miniseries takes place almost 20 years ago. Were you familiar with the subject matter at all, or what was it like to play with these concepts and events that are now so far removed from our current technology?

Shaprio: I actually wasn’t. I had no idea what Netscape was. It was exciting because as millennials, we use the internet every day. It’s such a big part of our lives, and I realized that I knew very little about its invention. And so to me it was really fascinating learning about it, and learning about how much of a Wild West it was, and how much money was in something that only a very few people actually understood. I thought that was really fascinating.

HR: Your storyline in Valley of the Boom is a classic rise and fall, as Paternot has this massive rise to success but it also goes to his head a little bit. Did you have a favorite moment to play within that arc?

Shaprio: I think one of my favorite moments is [the scene with] the leather pants. We’re in this club and I’m in a black turtleneck and black leather pants and dancing around. And I felt very confident. I’ve got to say, I get it. I see why he wore them.

HR: This is the most lengthy role you’ve had on TV so far. What are you going to take away from this miniseries as you go forward in your career?

Shaprio: What this reminds me of is that if you have an idea and you want to execute, you really have all the power to do so. It’s just about whether or not you really want to put in the effort to do it. That’s kind of what I’m taking away from this is like, if it’s something that I really want to do and commit my life to, then I can. That’s what’s really good.

Next. Watch a Valley of the Boom clip. dark

Valley of the Boom concludes tonight starting at 9 p.m. on National Geographic. For more on this and other Nat Geo shows, visit the Nat Geo category at Hidden Remote.