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INT: Paul Giamatti

The Giamatti I interviewed for LADY was very much different from the Giamatti I interviewed for SIDEWAYS. Back then you practically had to pry the words out of his mouth. But with a leading role in a summer blockbuster comes a certain amount of confidence and Giamatti actually carried himself less like a character actor and more like a bonafide star. Yet that stardom has yet to go to his head as he talks about his next projects being voiceover work in "The Amazing Screw-On Head" and Rob Zombie's "El Superbeasto." My kinda guy.

This character has so many different affectations, like his stutter. Were any or all of those written into the script or were those your interpretations? Well I guess, to some extent, it's my interpretation. But everything was in the script. It's great. The guy's a doctor but you only hear that once and...it becomes significant at the end of the movie but that's it. That was an important thing, that the guy's a doctor. And [Shyamalan] was always saying to me, "Don't forget the guy's a doctor." Cause I would react in way that'd seem more like a janitor than a doctor. He was like, "Always remember the guy's a doctor even though it's never said." That was an important thing to the way the guy behaves. We had a whole thing that he was this U Cal/Berkeley, slightly crunchy guy, with the glasses and stuff. Mostly it was the script and he rehearses a lot so it gives you an opportunity to put a lot of stuff into it. To get a lot of detail into it. Instead of just diving into it without a rehearsal and making it up as you go along. He lets you build detail. Do you like having that rehearsal time? Sure it's nice. I like not doing it too though. That bring a whole new thing to it that's great. But it's nice to be able to rehearse that much and he wanted to rehearse that much because he wanted to make sure it got that detail. And in this thing the story had to be so clear. He wanted to make sure everyone was telling the story as clearly as possible cause if not, there was no point to it. If the audience isn't following the story, they're going to miss the whole point of the movie. Did your love of science fiction help inform your point of view on the character and the movie in general? It certainly was part of the appeal to me, cause I like that sort of thing. I have a big thing for science fiction. So it definitely was a part of it and it definitely gave me an opportunity to sit around and read some wacky books. Ghosts and weirdness and weird science fiction stuff and UFOs. So it gave me an excuse to indulge in that kinda stuff, which is good. Which books did you read? I read books about Bigfoot - nothing that necessarily had any direct bearing on the movie but it was like, just wacky stuff. A lot of science fiction but I just can't remember specific titles now. I did read a lot of HP Lovecraft. it didn't necessarily have anything to do with the movie but it felt like the right idea. The creepiness element of it. The idea that there's this deep, menacing world going on. How were you first approached to do this movie? He was very secretive about the script. I went to lunch with him and he was real cagey about the script and what it was about. He just wanted to hang out and have lunch. It was very pleasant but he was super cagey about it. Then they sent it to me and I read it and I thought it was very odd in a really good way. I was like, "This is weird and if he can pull it off it'd be cool." It was kinda standard except I really didn't know what I was going to be reading. If he hadn't let you read the script would you still have taken the part? Yeah I think I would've been sold anyway. I mean I would have liked to have known what was going on and if I'm going to be naked and painted like an idiot. So I would've been sold cause I love his movies but... Well Night seemed to indicate in the new book about the making of this movie that you were a little hesitant to commit... I don't recall it that way (laughs). TO him it felt like five months went by but I think it was about a week. I wasn't playing hard to get, I think...I don't know, maybe my wife was on me about spending time with my kid or something and I didn't get around to reading it right away. He's an enthusiastic guy so I think he was like, "C'mon man, do you wanna do this or not?" I feel bad now knowing that. He never told me that I left him in suspense like that. Plus I'm always thinking, "This guy doesn't really wanna hire me, he's not serious." So I think I was sitting there going, "Yeah he's not gonna hire me." But I do feel bad. His second choice was rumored to be Kevin Costner. can you see that? Absolutely! I love Costner. I mean, I'm glad it's not Costner (laughs). But he would've been good too. After you had read it did you go to him with any questions about its meaning? He didn't explain it to me beforehand at all. I had to read it. He wouldn't tell me what it was about. He said, "It's a fairy tale." That's all he would tell me. So when I went back and read it and I understood it but I thought it's gonna be... It's ambitious. It's an ambitious idea to make the main point of the movie the story. To literally make the action of the movie the unfolding of the plot in two ways. The plot unfolds but the plot unfolds because all anybody does in the movie is sit around and tell each other the plot (laughs). It's a really weird thing to try to do but he pulls it off, I think. When you were rehearsing or filming did you find that Night's direction differed from your initial interpretation? Not really. But he shoots in such a specific way that makes it a little different. There are a lot of things in the movie where you never see... The camera stays on the person who hears the story and you never see the person telling the story. It's an interesting idea. I'm not sure why he did it like that but it's cool. I guess he wanted the idea of a child receiving the story. So you see all these people absorbing the story. But no, a lot of the time with the writer/director guys like this it ends up being like what you thought it would look like anyway cause they're so specific about it. Was that really you doing that extended underwater scene? Right. I did all that stuff. That’s me (laughs). It’s all cut, so I didn’t have to hold my breath for the length of that sequence. But there were times when I had to hold my breath for a long time, definitely. I think it’s still in the movie, that part when I have to breathe out of that glass. It gives a surprising amount of air. I was amazed by how much air I got out it. I was like, "This is going to look ridiculous, I’m not going to be able to do this." But I learned how to do it, and you can actually get a lot of air out of it, which is convincing. I enjoyed doing that. It was a lot of fun, actually. Can you talk about the benefits of shooting in sequence? I think that was probably pretty helpful. I’ve never done that before, and sometimes, in ways, it’s actually OK to not shoot it in sequence because you get the hard parts over with early. But I think for the clarity of this story it was important. Bryce is pretty much half-naked in this movie and you filmed this right after shooting CINDERELLA MAN with her Dad. Did you talk to Ron about it? He was like, "What are you doing with my daughter in this movie?" (Laughs) She was great. She’s fantastic, and she is an incredibly open and vivid and vibrant person and she’s just really fun. She’s a really good actress. It was meant to be, I mean, the holding-close; there’s meant to be a somewhat sexual undertone to some of it. I mean, that there’s a kind of attraction and it works that way, then it turns into a father/daughter thing. So that makes it a little bit interesting, but she was great. She is incredibly skillful, and she’s one of those people who makes you better. She sharpens you up a lot. Night has a pretty significant role in this movie. What was it like acting opposite your director? I had seen him in his other movies, and I always thought he was good. I never thought about the fact he wasn’t an actor or anything. He’s really good, and he’s totally natural. He’s very hard on himself, wants to make sure that he does a good job. He’s interested in it and he has a good time doing it so it actually kind of never occurred to me that he wasn’t an actor. There were times I was like, "Damn, he’s a good-looking man," It’s like, "Wow, god. He’s got more on the ball that I do as an actor." He can just kind of stand there with a smoldery look and I was like, "God, I wish I wish I could do that." I think the way he looks, and his naturalness, lends himself to being an actor. Did he talk to you about the apocalyptic and philosophical underpinnings that run throughout the movie? Sometimes. I mean, definitely. You know, he wants it to have a big, cosmic kind of message to it. When that eagle comes down in the end, it’s kind of a myth more than a bedtime story. He really wants to create kind of this weird, modern myth. There’s a lot of Joseph Campbell stuff. I mean, I don’t know whether he intends that, or he’s subconsciously doing that, but there’s an awful lot of it in there. I’d be interested to know. Ask him, because he’d never cop to that, to me. Did Night do any on-set rewrites? No, not really. He’s interesting too, because he does reshoots as you go along, sometimes. He’ll go back… I’ve never done that before, but I know that there are directors who do it. So sometimes he’ll go back and look at something and if he’s not satisfied with it, and because he doesn’t make them these ridiculously longs days, he was able to go back and reshoot some things as we were going along. Is it any different working with a writer-director? If the guy is good, it’s actually much better. Because they know it better than you’re ever gonna know it. So they have a really sure hand on it, and it just feels comfortable. It just feels really comfortable to me. Somebody like Alexander Payne and Night, there’s a real comfort level with it. They’re not trying to negotiates something with another writer; they’re got the whole together, and that’s all taken care of. You know what I mean? So that’s great, you feel like you can do your job and they can really help you. What’s coming up next? I did "Rob Zombie Presents: The Haunted World of El Superbeasto," and I have THE ANT BULLY coming up; I play an exterminator. THE ILLUSIONIST. And I did a thing called "The Amazing Screw-on Head," which is a cartoon. It’s a half hour cartoon for the Sci-Fi Channel and it’s about a Civil War era secret agent.
Source: JoBlo.com

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