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Paul Giamatti Talks Barney's Version, Win Win, Too Big to Fail, Hangover II and Gibson

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 7, 2010 at 2:00AM

Paul Giamatti is one of those actors who has enough of a global following, thanks to Sideways and HBO mini-series John Adams, to help get certain movies made. Barney's Version is one of them. You can see why he'd want to dive into the best Mordecai Richler character since Duddy Kravitz. The movie is worth seeing for how the actors run with their roles--from doting Dad Dustin Hoffman to Jewish princess Minnie Driver, hippie girlfriend Rachelle Lefevre and dream wife Rosamund Pike. Sony Pictures Classics is giving the film a qualifying run this week in New York and L.A. before a January 11 release.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Paul Giamatti is one of those actors who has enough of a global following, thanks to Sideways and HBO mini-series John Adams, to help get certain movies made. Barney's Version is one of them. You can see why he'd want to dive into the best Mordecai Richler character since Duddy Kravitz. The movie is worth seeing for how the actors run with their roles--from doting Dad Dustin Hoffman to Jewish princess Minnie Driver, hippie girlfriend Rachelle Lefevre and dream wife Rosamund Pike. Sony Pictures Classics is giving the film a qualifying run this week in New York and L.A. before a January 11 release.

Up next is Tom McCarthy's Win Win, "a very smart movie," he says, "about a small town attorney in New Jersey who gets drawn into a high school wrestler's life." Fox Searchlight will premiere the film at Sundance. (Here are early reviews; and trailer, below).

Barney's Version meanders from one decade to another, but Giamatti commands the screen as brainy, womanizing, boozing, out-of-control, charming TV producer Barney Panofsky. Paul Mazursky would have known how to direct this movie. (Here are some early fest reviews.) I caught up with Giamatti with my flip cam (below--it cuts off because it ran out of juice!). A small movie like this can easily get lost in the year-end shuffle, he says. "I'm hoping it doesn't. It's the kind of movie that doesn't get made very often. It's a grown-up character study."

Giamatti is currently working on HBO's adaptation of Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail, as bearded Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Directed by Curtis Hanson, the film co-stars William Hurt as former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Billy Crudup as Timothy Geitner, and Ed Asner as investor Warren Buffett. Giamatti just landed a part in The Hangover II, but had nothing to do with Mel Gibson's ouster from the cast. "At one time in our lives we wouldn't have known about that stuff," he says. "It would have happened behind closed doors. I wouldn't have a problem employing the guy, personally. I get it, understand it. People are not used to having people express that level of rage publicly. I don't want to punish the guy."

Part One: Softening Mordecai Richler's crazy character.

Part Two: Shooting film, watching Dustin Hoffman rip scenes apart. Working with King's Speech's Tom Hooper on John Adams.

Barney's Version Trailer:

Win Win Trailer:


This article is related to: Awards, Box Office, Festivals, Genres, Headliners, Independents, Video, Reviews, Interviews , TV, Sundance, comedy, Books, Trailers, HBO


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.