January 13, 2011 / 4:51 PM / 7 years ago

A Minute With: Paul Giamatti about "Barney's Version"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Paul Giamatti has always excelled at playing quirky characters in offbeat projects such as “Sideways” and “American Splendor.”

<p>Paul Giamatti smiles during the news conference for the film "Barney's Version" at the 35th Toronto International Film Festival September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Cassese</p>

In his new film “Barney’s Version,” which opens in theaters on Friday, the New York-based actor stars as the colorful Barney Panofsky, a TV producer whose life continually runs out of control.

Giamatti spoke to Reuters about the film and his career.

Q: This is not your usual comedy. Describe it for us?

A: “I’d say it’s a dark, romantic comedy. I loved it the moment I started reading the script. It’s this intimate character study, but it’s got this big scope -- it covers 30 years, Barney’s three wives and two continents, so there’s a lot of life in it.”

Q: And Barney is definitely not your usual hero. There’s a lot of bad behavior.

A: “You’re right, but I see him as a frustrated romantic. He offered me the chance to do a bit of everything, as he goes through so many different colors and emotions.”

Q: How much of you is there in Barney?

A: “I‘m sure there are parts of me in him, but it’s a tough one to tease out. He was a lot of fun to play as he has this great, aggressive energy and I‘m sure there’s lots of wish-fulfillment going on, too. He does a lot of things I wouldn’t do or allow myself to do.”

Q: After months of playing Barney, was it hard to leave him on the set when you went home to your family at night?

A: “I think I’ve gotten better at not carrying around the negative aspects of a character, but his energy remained and spilled over into my own life, which was nice.”

Q: You spend your professional life playing other people. Does acting make you more self-aware?

A: “Yes -- and almost unbearably so. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so self-aware and self-analyzing, (because) it doesn’t make me understand myself any better (laughs).”

Q: Dustin Hoffman plays your dad. How was it working with him? Any surprises?

A: “We did a film called ”Confidence“ about 10 years ago, so I’d met him but we didn’t have any scenes together. He’s a really playful guy, a lot of fun, and full of surprises. He’ll try anything to make a scene work, and sort of fling it around the room, so you just go with it.”

Q: What do you look for in a project?

A: “It sounds glib but it’s true -- if I just keep reading the script, it’s a fair indication of something. I‘m open to anything, and there’s a certain, looking for variety for its own sake, which may not be the smartest way to go about picking jobs. But I do like to find a different kind of part and story to do.”

Q: Talking of variety, you have several new and very different films coming up, including “Ironclad” and “Win-Win.”

A: “‘Ironclad’ is this medieval action movie which was a complete blast to do, and I play King John -- and who wouldn’t love playing a king? It was great! Then I did ”Win-Win“ with Tom McCarthy who directed ”The Station Agent.“ It is about this small-town lawyer who does something slightly crooked, and all the reverberations from that. And then I did ”Too Big to Fail,“ which is all about the banking crisis, and I play Ben Bernanke, which was fascinating.”

Q: You seem to work constantly. Are you a workaholic?

A: “You know, I might be. I don’t like to be unoccupied.”

Q: What do you do when you’re not working?

A: (laughs) “I worry about getting work. I‘m less worried than I used to be, but I still worry that I won’t find great parts.”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patricia Reaney

0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below