The Perfect Actor

In Barney's Version, Paul Giamatti makes the leap from a career of offbeat roles to the romantic lead as a cigar-smoking ladies' man

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But, he admits, “I worry about money, about having enough. I don’t know why. I grew up comfortable and well-off. And I have a fair amount of confidence I’ll find another role. But it worries me—worrying about people being happy and feeling good.”
Theater, however, seldom pays as well as film. Plus, Giamatti notes, “There’s nothing worse than being in a bad play. It’s easier to be in a bad movie.”
The fact that he hasn’t been on stage in several years intimidates him a little—but may also push him to go back.
“Not having done it in a while, I have a fear of going back—that I got soft,” he says. “But that’s probably why I should. I’ve gotten a little lazy. So I’ve been thinking about it lately.”
Asked whether there are particular roles he’s dreamed of playing, Giamatti says, “I never know what it is until it’s in front of me.” Then he pauses and says, “Actually, there are two parts I’ve wanted to do for some time.
“I’ve always wanted to play Lucky in ‘Waiting for Godot.’ And the other is the character (Jean) who turns into a rhinoceros on stage in Ionesco’s ‘Rhinoceros.’ I actually do have a stage urge—and it’s not to play Hamlet or Lear. It’s to be a rhinoceros.”
Marshall Fine writes about film and entertainment at his website,
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