Paul Giamatti attends "The Holdovers" BFI Screening and Q&A at BFI Southbank on January 16, 2024 in London, England.

Paul Edward Valentine Giamatti was born on June 6, 1967, in New Haven, Connecticut. His father, Angelo Bartlett Giamatti, was a Yale University professor who later became president of the university and later commissioner of Major League Baseball. His mother, Toni Marilyn Giamatti, taught at Hopkins School and also previously acted. Paul’s older brother, Marcus Giamatti, is also an actor and is best known for being a regular cast member of the drama series Judging Amy. Paul graduated from Yale, where he was active in the undergraduate theater scene and worked with fellow actors and Yale students Ron Livingston and Edward Norton. He performed in theater, appearing on Broadway and Seattle’s Annex Theater, before landing his first television role in ABC’s made-for-television film She’ll Take Romance in 1990. By 1995, he appeared in Woody Allen’s comedy film Mighty Aphrodite and Sydney Pollack’s romantic comedy remake of Sabrina.

In the late ’90s, Giamatti landed a number of supporting roles in big-budget films like The Truman Show, Saving Private Ryan, and Man on the Moon. Giamatti continued landing big films in the early 2000s with Duets, Big Momma’s House, Planet of the Apes, and Big Fat Liar. Going through his legendary career with Vanity Fair, Giamatti revealed he had to be blue for weeks for filming Big Fat Liar. The blue wouldn’t come off his feet for months! He and director Shawn Levy were pushing the mold on how big of an “a–hole” Giamatti could be in a kids movie starring alongside Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes.

Critical Acclaim

Giamatti achieved critical acclaim for the first time in his lead role in 2003’s American Splendor. He followed that up the next two years in Sideways and Cinderella Man. Both roles earned the actor awards and nominations. With steady work in the entertainment industry for the last 30 years, Paul Giamatti has 118 credits under his belt. Take a look at his best roles below:

  • 5. 'The Illusionist'

    Starring alongside his former Yale classmate, Edward Norton, Giamatti stars as Inspector Uhl in the 2006 film. Set in 1900s Vienna, Giamatti’s Uhl arrests Edward Nortan’s magician Eisenheim during a magic show involving raising the dead. With murder and romance driving the magician and his “illusions,” Uhl has no choice but to see the bigger picture. Jessica Biel stars as Sophie, Eisenheim’s love interest who is expected to marry the brutal, Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). This movie, on first watch, truly had us baffled at how it ended, making for an incredible mystery.

  • 4. 'Cinderella Man'

    Russell Crowe stated in an interview that working with Giamatti in the 2005 film was one of his favorite experiences in show business. Giamatti, in return, called Crowe a “machine” who loves acting, calling his acting “extraordinary.” The biographical sports drama was directed by Ron Howard, following the story of New Jersey Irish-American boxer James J. Braddock (Crowe). Formerly a light heavyweight contender, he is forced to give up boxing after breaking his hand in the ring. Giamatti stars as John Gould, who offers Braddock a chance to fill in for a last-minute fight against the number-two contender in the world, Corn Griffin. Giamatti won six awards as Best Supporting Actor for his role.

  • 3. 'Big Fat Liar'

    Giamatti will always be Marty Wolf to us after this 2002 film. Frankie Muniz’s Jason Shepherd brought Giamatti’s Wolf to his knees after discovering he stole his class paper and turned it into a blockbuster hit movie, Big Fat Liar. Through a hilarious series of pranks and ruses, Jason turns Marty blue, dyes his hair red, superglues his headset to his ear, tricks him into going to a child’s birthday party, and more just to get him to admit he plagiarized his essay to his parents. Of all the vast roles Giamatti has played during the course of his thirty-year career, this is his most unhinged. He has previously stated that director and pal Shawn Levy gave him free reign to push the boundaries for BFL.

  • 2. 'Barney's Version'

    2010’s Barney’s Version is like a modern retelling of 1972’s The Heartbreak Kid. Falling in love with a woman before the marriage’s ink is dry causes a really big mess. Rosamund Pike’s Miriam marries Barney (Giamatti) after he successfully divorces his wife, only for their marriage to falter — along with his memories. After being married twice before, we don’t have much hope for Barney getting a happy ending. However, as his health declines and his character shows a rawness to him, we end up being reeled in for the sad, dramatic story end to Barney’s Version.

  • 1. 'Sideways'

    Starring as Miles, Giamatti portrays a depressed writer and wine enthusiast. Taking his engaged friend, Jack (Thomas Haden Church), on a trip to wine country for a last single-guy bonding experience, Jack is looking for a fling before his wedding. Jack hooks up with a new woman, and when Miles lets it slip that Jack is getting married, their trip turns into chaos, including Miles chugging the spit bucket from a winery. Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen star as the two ladies capturing the men’s attention and hearts in the film. Miles’ redemption in growing a backbone and having decent morals makes this rom-com an enjoyable watch that we don’t think most have seen.

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