Giamatti at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
|Born||Paul Edward Valentine Giamatti
June 6, 1967
New Haven, Connecticut, United States
|Residence||Brooklyn, New York, United States|
|Alma mater||Yale University, B.A. 1989, MFA 1994|
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth Cohen (m. 1997)|
|Parent(s)||A. Bartlett Giamatti (father)|
|Relatives||Marcus Giamatti (brother)|
I was more used to acting onstage, for a long time. I don't know, maybe I was temperamentally more suited to stage stuff. And there are things about the stage that I miss in a lot of ways.
I did a movie called 'American Splendor', based on the comic book writer Harvey Pekar.
I don't really have any opinion about my performance in 'Big Momma's House.'
The supporting thing can be harder to pop in and out of. The hardest thing is the people who have to come in and play, say, the bartender for a day – that's a lot harder than playing the lead role. You have to pop in and get it right. It's a lot of pressure to just pop in there and fit in and find your footing really fast.
I want to be a villain with steel hands or something. I want to be the crazy, world-domination-obsessed villain. I would love to be a Bond villain.
I really do like a really good science fiction movie and a really good horror movie. Those are the kinds of things I really like. But, I mean, I'm not into sort of like slasher movies. I like a really good science fiction movie, which is hard to do. They don't make many really good ones any more.
Am I really cool? You're telling me I'm cool? Well, that's good to hear.
It is because my dad died suddenly that I became an actor. I thought, I'm going to make money doing this thing I enjoy.
Academia is a rarified culture, especially an Ivy League academic background.
Now, actors get so familiarized with Eastern Europe. I never imagined I'd get as familiar with Budapest and Prague and places like that in my life.
I played old men back in drama school. It's just now that I'm drawing level with the age of the characters I play, but I'm fine with that, and I've certainly never envied people who became hugely famous when they were young.
There is something pleasurable for an actor to produce something and not be in it.
My father died in 1989 before I knew what I was going to do with my life. I had just graduated from college. My mother died just before 'Sideways' came out. She knew I was an actor, but she never saw me become successful.
The 'Planet of the Apes' movies made me wanna – probably unconsciously – be an actor. Seriously. And The Mummy – and 'Hammer horror' movies. 'Fantastic.' I loved stuff like that, and that stuff probably did more than anything to make me wanna do it.
'Capricorn One' just seemed like… wow. That was it, y'know? Nothing was ever going to be better than that movie.
I wanted to play Zapruder, as he is a man you really don't know much about: a faceless, anonymous figure.
The white male is one of the easiest things to be. There's always a job; there's always something for you to do.
Am I an anxious guy? I think I have been called upon as an actor a lot to access emotions like that. But I don't really think I am a big worrier. I don't see myself like that. But I guess other people do. Which is maybe worrying in itself.
If I play a more aggressive, stronger guy, I often go through my day feeling a bit better than when I play somebody who's not.
I'm pretty easy to get along with on set, but I'm probably hard on myself.
I've never not been proud of the work I was doing; I have nothing I have any shame about.
Growing up, I didn't know where I was headed, except to the grave or maybe to the gutter. I went through wanting to do a lot of things, but acting wasn't one of them.
With 'Duplicity', I was a little bit like, 'This isn't that hard of a movie.' This isn't like some huge brain trust of a movie. You gotta be a little bit awake to follow the plot, but it's really just a kind of light entertainment. It's like those Cary Grant movies, which are not meant to be anything other than diverting. In a nice way.
In a weird way, I like to find the quirkiness in ordinary things. I like to find what is ordinary in quirky people.
Well, you know, when people say stuff about you, it's always really flattering. But does it mean anything to me? It's not really real to me; there's no reality to it.
I don't mind being stereotyped in some way and playing certain kinds of guys, but if I can find something to occasionally get a break from that, that would be nice. And I feel like I manage to.
This whole business feels kind of intense, like a bad fit. Round peg, square hole. But whatever, I'll take it.
I remember when I was at the first showing of 'John Dies at the End' at Sundance, and I was talking to some of the people in the standby crowd who were outside and didn't have tickets. They were just waiting in line to see if they could get in. It was this whole gang of die-hard sci-fi wacko people, and they were just fantastic.
I really only started doing film in '97. I mean, before then, I just pretty much did theater.
As an actor, to have achieved financial stability is amazing. But I always have this weird fear that I'm not going to get any more work; it's about not having enough money.
I consider myself an atheist. My wife is Jewish. And I'm fine with my son being raised as a Jew. He's learning Hebrew and is really into it. I will talk to my own son about my atheism when the time is right. But there's a great tradition of Jewish atheism, there are no better atheists in the world than the Jews.
I definitely have a tendency to only see the blemishes of things, and see lots of things about my acting that I don't like.
I was the youngest child and got a lot more freedom than my brother and sister. I used to wander, doing my own thing under the radar, but I didn't get in bad, bad trouble.
I was never the class clown or put on shows at home. I never thought of acting as something I could do with my life. When I was a kid, I used to run around wrapped in toilet paper so I could be the Mummy. But that wasn't a sign that I was dreaming of being an actor. I was just an odd child.
'Rosemary's Baby' is a real New York movie, even though you wouldn't necessarily think of it as one, though I do.
I was a big 'Planet of The Apes' fan, so I was really excited about being in it. I had a really good time. I liked wearing all that stuff, and I liked playing the part.
I still want to be the guy who can get on the subway and check out the freak on the subway.
I find that the crazy narcissists, the selfish loons are often the most fun to be around, weirdly.
When I did 'Lady in the Water,' the most exciting thing to me was to get to work with Bob Balaban – I couldn't leave the guy alone. I drove him crazy. He's fantastic and a hilarious guy.
It'd be disingenuous to say I don't like attention – I'm an actor for God's sake – and it's flattering and all, but attention was never my big goal. I just like to work and have a good time.
I suppose there must be some way in which I'm compelled to show some side of myself – or of people – that's paranoid and fraught and beleaguered and downtrodden, just as Tom Cruise wants to show that he's terrifyingly upbeat and terrifyingly heroic all the time.
I always would be happy to make a character even more unlikable, but you know, there's a limit and if you go there, you get into a very different kind of movie, man.
Most conspiracies interest me because of the people who are into them, and the lengths they'll go to expose it or the evidence they think they have. All that stuff. There's just something so beautiful to me about people who sincerely believe we never went to the moon. It gives me so much joy.
I'm not a big wine guy. And bars, I never go to bars anymore. It's such a drag, man.
I would probably choose supporting roles if I had to make a choice. It's actually a really hard thing to say. It's all on a role-by-role basis, ultimately. I shouldn't be so quick to say that. I feel like you're given greater license to be colorful and eccentric in supporting roles, and that's interesting to me.
Sometimes, I think I may be more recognizable because I'm character-looking.
It's funny: most people who recognize me on the subway and stuff – it's much more they think of me as a funny guy. I get much more of people telling me how much I make them laugh, actually. Which is nice.
I don't consider myself a very interesting person. I have the mentality of a supporting actor.
I don't think film actors need training, really, but I needed any help I could get.
I think one of the great things about acting is the instant gratification: you just get up and start being a part of the story. The immediacy is something you get really addicted to.
I worked with J. T. Walsh – it was one of the best experiences I ever had – a fantastic actor and a great guy. I was in the last movie that he did: 'The Negotiator.' He died a couple of months after that. He was great.
Religion features more now in my life than it did when I was a kid – my dad rejected the Catholic church as a young man. I had no religious upbringing, but certainly, Dad was a kind of secular humanist. I don't know if he was an atheist or agnostic. I regret I didn't talk to him about it.
I've got to be the geekiest guy in the world in a lot of ways. I'm like a zeta male.
Lead roles are fun, but I'm especially happy other, more colorful supporting stuff has come along.
Honestly, I never wanted to be more than a good supporting actor. Really, I enjoy it.
I don't feel like I've ever done anything – even 'Big Momma's House' – that I didn't really have some desire to do.
I don't mind talking about acting. I don't have anything interesting to say about it, but it's interesting talking about it.
I learned how to fire a sniper rifle, which I'm sure will be useful at some point.
I was an English major at Yale, but I did do undergraduate theater there. And I went to the graduate school for acting.
Do you know Don Coscarelli? 'Bubba Ho-Tep?' That's one of my favorite movies in the world. And I love the 'Phantasm' movies.
The problem with getting injured when you get older is that it takes longer to recover.