20 years after ‘Sideways,’ Paul Giamatti may finally land his first best actor Oscar nomination

December 5, 2023 3:27 pm

[Source: AP]

When Paul Giamatti made “Sideways” with Alexander Payne, he stayed in a little house in the middle of a large vineyard.

At the end of a day of shooting, he would drive home in darkness, with the California hills around him.

Giamatti was then a respected character actor, but this was one of his first times as the lead. And he couldn’t believe it.

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“I remember Alexander saying, ‘You two guys are going to do it,’” recalls Giamatti of himself and Thomas Hayden Church. “And we were like, ‘Seriously?’”

In the years since, Giamatti, 56, has remained a leading man, albeit an unlikely one. His ability to carry a movie is now, well, kind of obvious. That goes for indie gems like “Private Life” and “Win Win” or acclaimed series like “John Adams” and “Billions.”

But two decades later, “Sideways” remains lodged in Giamatti’s memory. “I remember every second of making it,” he said on a recent afternoon in Manhattan. Wide as his travels have been since – “Hamlet” at Yale, Jerry Heller in “Straight Outta Compton,” seven years on “Billions” — he’s not experienced anything quite like the natural, ensemble feel of “Sideways.” Until, that is, he reteamed with Payne for “The Holdovers.”

“I’ve never done anything like it again,” says Giamatti, “except this is the closest thing to it.”