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Paul Giamatti

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Also Known As: Paul Edward Valentine Giamatti Died:
Born: June 6, 1967 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Connecticut, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Prior to becoming one of the more unlikely leading men in Hollywood, actor Paul Giamatti made a career out of playing comic foils and repressed loners constantly on the verge of exploding with rage. Giamatti first grabbed the public's attention with his vitriolic performance as Kenny - a.k.a. Pig Vomit - Howard Stern's nemesis in "Private Parts" (1997), before quickly developing into the go-to guy for a director looking for an everyman-type actor who could convincingly project simmering intensity. His sour yet endearing performance as bitter comic book writer Harvey Pekar in the offbeat biopic, "American Splendor" (2003) did much to put him on the mainstream moviegoer's radar. But it was with his highly-lauded performance in the surprise hit "Sideways" (2004), that Giamatti vaulted to the A-list as a kind of unlikely leading man, a leap that made the comfortable character actor a bit unsettled. With award-worthy performances in "John Adams" (HBO, 2008) and "Barney's Version" (2010), Giamatti became one of those rare actors capable of excelling in both leading and supporting roles, allowing him the freedom to oscillate between big budget fare and small indie films, while developing a reputation as one...

Prior to becoming one of the more unlikely leading men in Hollywood, actor Paul Giamatti made a career out of playing comic foils and repressed loners constantly on the verge of exploding with rage. Giamatti first grabbed the public's attention with his vitriolic performance as Kenny - a.k.a. Pig Vomit - Howard Stern's nemesis in "Private Parts" (1997), before quickly developing into the go-to guy for a director looking for an everyman-type actor who could convincingly project simmering intensity. His sour yet endearing performance as bitter comic book writer Harvey Pekar in the offbeat biopic, "American Splendor" (2003) did much to put him on the mainstream moviegoer's radar. But it was with his highly-lauded performance in the surprise hit "Sideways" (2004), that Giamatti vaulted to the A-list as a kind of unlikely leading man, a leap that made the comfortable character actor a bit unsettled. With award-worthy performances in "John Adams" (HBO, 2008) and "Barney's Version" (2010), Giamatti became one of those rare actors capable of excelling in both leading and supporting roles, allowing him the freedom to oscillate between big budget fare and small indie films, while developing a reputation as one of the most mesmerizing performers of his time.

Giamatti was born on June 6, 1967 in New Haven, CT, the son of Angelo Bartlett "Bart" Giamatti, a former president of Yale University, and later the commissioner of Major League Baseball who was most famous for banning Pete Rose from the sport for betting on games. But his mother, Toni, was no slouch - she was a prep school English teacher and a former actor. So Giamatti grew up awash in academia, particularly Renaissance literature which was taught by his dad at Yale prior to him becoming president. Giamatti attended Choate Rosemary Hall, a preparatory school in Wallingford, CT, before studying English at Yale and graduating in 1989. The ink on the degree was barely dry when Giamatti's father - a heavy smoker for many years - died of a sudden heart attack at 51 (an actual photo of Giamatti and his father at the graduation was displayed prominently onscreen years later in "Sideways"). An avid collector of comic books and reader of science fiction, particularly H.P. Lovecraft, Giamatti moved to Seattle after his father's death to try his hand at animation. But with little to no success, he returned home to attend Yale's famed School of Drama; a move that shocked his unsuspecting family

After graduating Yale a second time, Giamatti cut his acting teeth in regional theater before moving on to bigger stages both off- and on Broadway, appearing in Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" and David Hare's "Racing Demon." He began the segue into film and television, playing a heckler in the made-for-ABC movie, "I'll Take Romance" (1990) and making his feature debut as Kissing Man in the Gen-X hit, "Singles" (1992). After his series debut as a man in a sleeping bag on "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005), Giamatti landed meatier roles in "Sabrina" (1995) and "Mighty Aphrodite" (1995). He had a memorable role as an FBI technician in "Donnie Brasco" (1997), followed by small parts in "Deconstructing Harry" (1997) and "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997). Giamatti burst into the spotlight with a hilarious turn opposite Howard Stern as Kenny "Pig Vomit" Rushton, a virulent radio executive at NBC who tries to intimidate the irrepressible Stern, in "Private Parts" (1997). Hollywood suddenly stood up and took notice of the odd character actor.

Back on Broadway, Giamatti sank his teeth into Anton Chekhov's "The Tree Sisters" at the Roundabout Theater Company at the same time "Private Parts" hit theaters. In "Saving Private Ryan" (1998), he was again memorable in a small part, playing a bumbling paratrooper sergeant who helps Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his small team of Army infantrymen on their mission during the Allied invasion of Normandy to find the last surviving son (Matt Damon) of a family deprived of all its male offspring as war casualties. After appearing in "The Truman Show" (1998), Giamatti turned in a scene-stealing turn opposite Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson in the hostage thriller "The Negotiator" (also 1998). He was impressive as Bob Zmuda, longtime, long-suffering collaborator of Andy Kaufman (Jim Carrey) in the Milos Forman biopic "Man on the Moon" (1999). Following the forgettable "Cradle Will Rock" (1999), Giamatti returned to Broadway to play Jimmy Tomorrow in Spacey's revival of "The Iceman Cometh," a role that earned him a Drama Desk nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

After serving as the perfect foil for Martin Lawrence in "Big Momma's House" (2000) and portraying a down-and-out karaoke aficionado in "Duets" (2000), Giamatti showed his diversity in balancing two roles - one intensely realistic; the other wildly absurd. First, he played a down-and-out shoe salesman and aspiring documentary filmmaker who focuses his first project on a dysfunctional family, particularly their slacker son (Mark Webber) who wants to be Conan O'Brien, in the "Non-Fiction" segment of writer-director Todd Solondz's bitter "Storytelling" (2001). He was then oddly convincing as the untrustworthy orangutan Limbo in Tim Burton's silly remake of "Planet of the Apes" (2001). In 2002, Giamatti took the stage opposite Al Pacino in a Broadway production of "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui," Bertolt Brecht's play about a fictional Chicago mobster ruthlessly disposing of his competition while trying to corner the cauliflower market. Giamatti turned in a compelling, though cartoonish performance as duplicitous Hollywood executive Marty Wolf, who steals a young boy's (Frankie Muniz) movie idea in the family-oriented "Big Fat Liar" (2002).

Following a standard supporting turn in the noirish "Confidence" (2003), Giamatti wowed audiences with his performance as the angry and embittered indie comic book auteur Harvey Pekar in the independent biopic, "American Splendor" (2003). Peppered with documentary-style interviews with the real Harvey Pekar, as well as the artist's grittily unusual artwork, the film followed the curmudgeonly misanthrope's rise from a file clerk at a VA hospital to a comic book writer whose depictions of working-class life turned him into a cult celebrity. Giamatti managed to capture Pekar's essence so perfectly, that the sporadic interviews with the real man seemed at times to be out of place. While he was honored for his performance by the National Board of Review for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead, Giamatti was wrongly snubbed at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.

After follow-up turns in the above-average telepic, "The Pentagon Papers" (2003) and the disappointing John Woo thriller "Paycheck" (2003), Giamatti delivered a tremendous performance in Alexander Payne's wildly praised, seriocomic "Sideways" (2004). As Miles Raymond, the failing writer and wine connoisseur who embarks on a revelatory wine country road trip with his soon-to-be-married college roommate (Thomas Hayden Church), he discovers both the darkest and most promising elements of his nature. Giamatti's poignant and affecting performance was both heartbreaking and hysterical (often both at once), and was hailed as one of the best of the year. Although many were shocked when Giamatti was overlooked for an Oscar nomination - though his co-stars Hayden Church and Virginia Madsen both received nods - the actor reveled in his share of accolades, including the Best Male Actor trophy at the Independent Spirit Awards, the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and other regional critics' honors, as well asnominations for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards. He also did share a SAG ensemble award with his cast mates. Truth be told, he received more ink than he had in his entire career for not being nominated. That Giamatti "was robbed" was a common refrain - heard not just in Hollywood, but from moviegoers around the world.

Meanwhile, Giamatti provided the voice of Tim the Gate Guard in the well-reviewed animated feature "Robots" (2005), which depicted a world similar to earth but inhabited entirely by mechanical beings. His next big screen role - lensed before the phenomenal success of "Sideways" - was in director Ron Howard's uplifting "Cinderella Man" (2005), playing Joe Gould, the loyal manager of Depression era boxer and folk hero James Braddock (Russell Crowe). The role earned him the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role and a long overdue Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Giamatti next nabbed an opportunity to work with M. Night Shyamalan on "Lady in the Water" (2006), a child-like fantasy that focuses on Cleveland Heep (Giamatti), an apartment superintendent who discovers a wistful water nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard) living in a strange world beneath the building's swimming pool. The nymph is in danger of being destroyed by demonic creatures from her secret world, as Heep and his building's motley tenants band together to help her get back to her world. Though "Lady in the Water" was both a critical and financial disaster, Giamatti did receive kudos for his affecting and wounded performance.

In the much more critically lauded period drama "The Illusionist" (2006), Giamatti played the shrewd Chief Inspector Uhl, a law-and-order man charged by the Crown Prince of Vienna (Rufus Sewell) to expose a gifted illusionist (Edward Norton) after the prince's fiancée (Jessica Biel) starts working on stage with him. After voicing the bug exterminator in "The Ant Bully" (2006), Giamatti returned to the low budget indie world to play an emotionally stunted man who finds a connection with a red-tailed hawk in "The Hawk Is Dying" (2007). He continued to be productive through 2007, playing the leader of a team of shadowy assassins trying to kill a baby protected by the hardboiled Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) in the ridiculously hyper-violent "Shoot 'Em Up." In "The Nanny Diaries," Giamatti portrayed the domineering Mr. X, who, along with his snooty wife (Laura Linney), hires a working-class nanny (Scarlett Johansson) and forces her to cater to the family's ever upper class need. But it was his portrayal as the dedicated, but irascible Founding Father in the seven-part miniseries "John Adams" (HBO, 2008), that earned Giamatti his greatest acclaim to date, winning the actor a slew of awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a television movie or miniseries and a Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding performance.

Giamatti kicked off the following year with a turn as a corrupt corporate CEO caught up in a high-stakes double-cross of his own making in the romantic thriller "Duplicity" (2009). Co-starring fan-favorite Julia Roberts and leading man Clive Owen, the smart and sexy film proved to be a moderately disappointing vehicle for its leads, but allowed him to shine at his vehement best. Once again jumping from mainstream fare to experimental indie projects, Giamatti next appeared as an alternate version of himself a la "Being John Malkovich" (1999) in the quirky comedy "Cold Souls" (2009), in which the depressed actor literally has his soul removed and placed in storage, only to later discover it missing. He capped off the year with "The Last Station" (2009), as the foil to the wife (Helen Mirren) of literary giant Leo Tolstoy. As Tolstoy's trusted confidant and disciple, Vladmir Chertkov (Giamatti) lobbies to convince the author to rewrite his will and leave all his worldly possessions to the people of Russia, much to the dismay of Mrs. Tolstoy. What followed was considered by many to be the most nuanced performance of Giamatti's already-impressive career. Over the course of decades, "Barney's Version" (2010) looks back at the life of the irascible Barney Panofsky: serial husband, TV producer and possible murderer. Giamatti's brilliant portrayal of the foul-mouthed, cigar-chomping, at times surprisingly endearing cretin earned him a much-deserved Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Back on the small screen, Giamatti joined an all-star cast for the cable movie "Too Big to Fail" (HBO, 2011), which chronicled the 2008 financial meltdown as seen from the eyes of its major players. Giamatti portrayed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, an academic who helped orchestrate a series of government bailouts of the banking industry that he felt were vital to saving the global economy. The role placed Giamatti back into Emmy Award contention after earning a nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.

After starring in the endearing indie "Win Win" (2011) as a lawyer and part-time wrestling coach, Giamatti popped up in the raucous sequel "The Hangover Part II" (2011) and George Clooney's political drama "The Ides of March" (2011), which also featured his equally formidable character-actor peer Philip Seymour Hoffman. The following year, he took on quirkier fare, with a small but notable part in David Cronenberg's coolly detached "Cosmopolis" and a supporting turn in the gleefully strange low-budget horror comedy "John Dies at the End," a passion project that Giamatti executive produced. Remaining as busy as ever, he lent his voice to the animated snail-centric dud "Turbo" (2013), was featured as Friar Laurence in a major movie adaptation of "Romeo & Juliet" (2013) and appeared briefly in the lauded historical drama "12 Years a Slave" (2013).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Private Life (2017)
3.
 Ratchet & Clank (2016)
4.
 Little Prince (2016)
5.
 Morgan (2016)
6.
 Phenom, The (2016)
7.
 Ratchet & Clank (2016)
9.
 Love & Mercy (2015)
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1995:
Had a small role in Woody Allen's "Mighty Aphrodite"
1999:
Played Jimmy Tomorrow in the Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh"
1999:
Played Kaufman's creative partner Bob Zmuda in the Andy Kaufman biopic "Man on the Moon," directed by Milo¿ Forman
2003:
Played the lead role in the Harvey Pekar biopic "American Splendor"
1997:
Played the spineless brother in the Broadway production of "The Three Sisters"
2007:
Portrayed Santa Claus in the comedy "Fred Claus," co-starring Vince Vaughn as his disgruntled older brother
2009:
Portrayed Tolstoy's trusted follower Vladimir Chertkov in "The Last Station," starring Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy
1997:
Breakthrough role, playing Kenny 'Pig Vomit' Rushton, Stern's antagonistic program director at WNBC in the film adaptation of Howard Stern's "Private Parts"
1990:
Made acting debut in the ABC TV-movie "I'll Take Romance"
1992:
Made feature debut in Cameron Crowe's "Singles"
1992:
Played a supporting role opposite Rutger Hauer in the USA Network thriller "Past Midnight"
2008:
Played the title role in the seven part HBO miniseries "John Adams"
2005:
Portrayed manager/trainer Joe Gould opposite Russell Crowe in "Cinderella Man"
2001:
Provided comic relief as the ape who trafficks in humans in Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes"
1998:
Appeared as the Control Room Director in Peter Weir's "The Truman Show"
2002:
Cast as a film producer in "Big Fat Liar" opposite Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes
2006:
Cast as the lead in M. Night Shyamalan's supernatural thriller "Lady in the Water"
2003:
Cast opposite Ben Affleck in John Woo's "Paycheck"
1997:
Featured as an FBI Technician in Mike Newell's "Donnie Brasco"
1996:
Appeared opposite brother Marcus in the off-Broadway play "The Blues Are Running"
2004:
Played Miles Faymond, a divorced struggling writer in Alexander Payne's "Sideways"
1998:
Portrayed Civil War veteran Jeremiah Piper in ABC's "Tourist Trap"
2006:
Portrayed the shrewd Chief Inspector Uhl in Neil Burger's "The Illusionist"
2010:
Cast in the title role in "Barney's Version," a Canadian drama based on the novel of the same name
2011:
Starred as a high school wrestling coach in the sports themed drama "Win Win"
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
2011:
Co-starred in "The Ides of March" with George Clooney, who also directed, co-wrote and produced
2011:
Portrayed Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke in HBO's "Too Big to Fail"
2011:
Made a cameo in "The Hangover Part II"
2012:
Cast alongside Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin in feature adaptation of the stage musical "Rock of Ages"
2012:
Appeared in comedy horror "John Dies at the End"
2012:
Featured in David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis"
2013:
Played the friar in "Romeo & Juliet"
2013:
Part of the ensemble cast of the period drama "12 Years a Slave"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Yale University: New Haven, Connecticut -
Choate Rosemary Hall: Wallingford, Connecticut - 1985
Yale University: New Haven, Connecticut - 1989

Notes

His two middle names are for each of his grandfathers, Valentine Giamatti and Edward Smith.

"Paul is this little best-kept secret, and we've discovered him. If you could meet the real Pig Vomit, you'd see Paul sounds like him. He looks like him. You get that same sort of annoying feeling talking to him, that same stomach-turning feeling just as much as the real guy."---Howard Stern to The New York Times, March 9, 1997.

"I play abused people all the time. The guy in 'Three Sisters' is just horribly abused, too, but the 'Private Parts' character is also abusive in a way that I hadn't gotten to play that much. It was fun to play a guy who was a real psychotic lunatic, who depends so much on pathetic hysteria, who was releasing that much rage all the time."---Paul Giamatti in The New York Times, March 9, 1997.

"I'm kind of drawn to socially and psychologically marginal characters, and even characters marginal to the story. I always wondered who the hell those guys were. They were so great and so vivid, and yet you only got little bits of them. [Many] were kind of bizarre and grotesque, and that always interested me. They were physically strange. They had funny voices. There just aren't guys like that anymore."---Paul Giamatti in The New York Times Magazine, July 29, 2001.

"When I did 'American Splendor,' he says, Harvey Pekar's wife compiled a list of every word used to describe me and him, and it was, like, ten pages long. It was like, 'frog-eyed... pasty... ' People just go to fucking town on me. I'm like, 'C'mon! I'm not that bad-looking. I got a wife!'"---Giamatti to Premiere, February 2005.

"I was the old man actor," Giamatti says of his days at the Yale School of Drama. "If there had to be somebody in a Chekhov play in a wheelchair with a blanket over his legs and a Panama hat on, that was me."---Giamatti quoted in GQ, June, 2005.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Elizabeth Cohen. Writer. Born c. 1962; married on October 13, 1997; co-director of admisions at St Anne's, a private school in Brooklyn, New York (c. 1997).

Family close complete family listing

father:
Angelo Bartlett Giamatti. Educator. College English professor and later president of Yale University; also served as president of MLB's National League and then as commissioner of Major League Baseball until his death in 1989 at age 51.
mother:
Toni Giamatti. Prep school English teacher, former actor.
brother:
Marcus Giamatti. Actor. Born on October 3, 1961; married to actor Kathryn Meisle.
sister:
Elena Giamatti. Jewelry designer. Younger.
son:
Samuel Giamatti. Born c. 2001.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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