Paul Giamatti Video Interview On ‘Barney’s Version’
Paul Giamatti takes questions exclusively for users of Uinterview.com on his role in Barney’s Version for which he won a Golden Globe.
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Yeah, that helped; that didn’t hurt, absolutely. I had a real thing for her. I mean, I’d seen her in movies and plays, and I thought she was an astounding actress – as well as amazing looking. So I was really eager to work with her; I think I was predisposed to have good chemistry with her, you know, without even thinking about it, and it was just a piece of cake working with her. And I remember thinking: Who the hell is this woman? And then I finally got to work with her.
It’s a really interesting acting challenge. It’s kind of a pleasure playing that character, and that kind of thing is always fun. I mean, you have a conflict for yourself as an actor, and then you have a nice conflict for the viewer: they go back and forth between – is this guy a bastard? – or is he not, or is he actually kind of a decent guy. So to me, that’s interesting. The character is so well written that if I just follow the script without screwing it up, I should be able to hit the right balance. … I mean, I suppose I’m a bit “romantic” like he is, not as much as he is, but everything about that guy is outsized. You know, I think it was more the stuff that I couldn’t do that I envied, because I couldn’t identify with it. I wouldn’t chase after a woman at my wedding, another woman; I wouldn’t, you know, punch a guy in a hospital waiting room; and I wouldn’t pull a gun on somebody. I mean, I wouldn’t do all these things this guy does, which is why he was so fun to play.
I think actually one of the best things to shoot in the whole movie was the big long wedding sequence, which was an ensemble of 350 people. They got the congregation of a synagogue to be the people in that movie! They took the entire congregation, and they all wanted to be in the movie. The sense of the reality of all those people knowing each other – and you know, there were all these great faces – but doing all of those moments, with Minnie, with Scott, with Dustin, and then with Rosamund – it’s a great sequence; it’s got so much life to it. The whole reason I wanted to do that movie was because of that kind of sweaty drunken life that that scene has. So that was really fun to do. Three days of that was really fun.
The producer Robert Lantos is friends with Mordecai Richler. I knew who he was; I knew of the book; and I knew what people thought of him in Canada, how important he is to Canadians. So in a lot of ways the thing that meant the most to me was how afraid I was of blowing it for Canadians. I thought, they’re going to give this part to an American? When I met them, I said, “Really, there’s no Canadian guy you want to play this?” Because it’s such an important Canadian book. So I think the biggest concern I had was that I didn’t want to blow it and have Canadians pissed off at me for ruining this iconic book.
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