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The Paul Giamatti Bio

The Paul Giamatti Review –

by Nate Lee

Best Film:

Sideways / The Illusionist

Though Church is a perfect foil and contributed mightily to show just how angry, dissatisfied and messed up Giamatti's Miles is, this is Paul's film. His deep and layered portrayal made this film. Though The Illusionist is a better, or more interesting and involved, film, this time Giamatti is the neutral foil of both the Archduke and the Magician, certainly contributing to its success, but not responsible for it as with Sideways.

Great Performances You May Not Have Seen:
Cold Souls (a man in search of his hijacked soul)
Lady in the Water (apartment complex maintenance man)
The Nanny Diaries (Laura Linney's husband and employer of nanny Scarlett Johansson)
Real People:
John Adams (Golden Globe and SAG-winning performance as the second President)
Trumbo (writer Dalton Trumbo)
Man on the Moon (Bob Zmuda, Andy Kaufman's best friend)
American Splendor (comic book artist Harvey Pekar)
Private Parts (Howard Stern's program director)
Ironclad (King John)
The Last Station (Vladimir Chertkov, devoted Tolstoian and adversary of Tolstoy's wife Helen Mirren over Leo's writing)
Too Big To Fail (Ben Bernanke)
Giamatti the Jerk:
Sideways (Golden Globe and SAG-nominated performance as Miles, a guy trying to treat his friend, Thomas Haden Church, to a weekend of California wine)
Big Fat Liar (a lying producer who gets his comeuppance from Frankie Muniz)
Shoot 'Em Up (ciminal lord out to steal a baby from Clive Owen)
Barney's Version (Golden Globe-winning performance as blunt and politically incorrect producer, with Dustin Hoffman)
Duplicity (a corrupt corporate executive)
Win Win (a wrestling coach who receives the gift of a champion wrestler while illegally taking advantage of the wrestler's grandfather)
Hangover II (Federal agent disguised as mobster)
The Illusionist (Chief Inspector Uhl in Vienna investigating unusual magician Edward Norton)
Planet of the Apes (Limbo, an orangutan who works as a slave trader)
Cinderella Man (Boxer Russell Crowe's manager)
Big Momma's House (an FBI agent and partner of Martin Lawrence)
The Real Paul Giamatti:
John Adams >

Though he's played lots of real people with varying degrees of likeability, Giamatti's persona (not really his real life) seems to be that of the person whose intellect just gets in his way more often than not. Most of his best characters have this trait. What he has in common with John Adams, though, is a patrician New England upbringing, with Choate and Yale, and an intellectual father.
Acting Style:
Angst and Confrontation. Giamatti has tapped into his inner id and brought it to the surface better than just about anyone. He plays guys that aren't usually villains, per se, but that are certainly far from likeable. We can sometimes see the inner demons that compel his characters to be what they are, and this beautifully ameliorates them just enough to make them more real.
Bits and Quirks:
Giamatti really works it. That round bald head, those beady eyes, he glories in. Usually it's a complex backwards and forwards roll of the head all the time staring, or rather glaring. Also, the bitter rolling of the eyes. This, with one of the more recognizable voices that goes from a pained whine to a quasi-deep (with a great sideways glare) matter of fact, resigned tone. The hunched-over version of all of these works, too.
Great Scenes:
Hangover II

> The arrest of Chou and the reveal


> Drinking the spit pail of wine
> Running through the vineyard after finding out his ex, Victoria, is married
> Telling Virginia Madsen about Pinots
> His "drink n dial" of Victoria

The Illusionist

> Receiving the secrets in the end
> Meeting Norton and confessing his love of magic, and learning the "mind-reading" trick
> The sword in the stone trick
> Speaking to the prince while he's shooting
> Arresting Norton after the hologram

Big Fat Liar

> Reveal that he's blue with orange hair
> Discovering that all the wires in his car have been crossed
> The showdown with Frankie Munoz and the reveal
> The epilogue as the clown


> The fist fight with Tom Wilkinson at the beginning
> The stockholders meeting at the end, where he realizes he's been tricked