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Paul Giamatti Tackles Small Roles with Big Success

Paul Giamatti plays a small town lawyer who faces an ethical dilemma in the movie Win Win.

Photo ©Fox Searchlight Pictures

Paul Giamatti doesn’t often get top billing on movie posters. But that doesn’t mean this talented actor doesn’t earn every accolade he gets.

“Giamatti has a way of giving life to every character he plays.”

Although the Connecticut-born performer took the lead as an unsuccessful writer in the Oscar winning movie Sideways and a small town attorney plagued by an ethical dilemma in Win Win, many of the entries on his long resume are secondary characters. He plays a boxer’s manager in Cinderella Man. He also has smaller parts in movies as diverse as The Illusionist, The Ant Bully, Fred Claus, The Last Station and Rock of Ages. But don’t let the size of his roles fool you. Giamatti has a way of giving life to every character he plays. And luckily for fans, this actor tackled a variety of characters in 2013.

In Saving Mr. Banks he plays a lowly limo driver who is assigned to drive author P.L. Travers from her motel to meetings with Walt Disney. Despite Travers’ cantankerous persona, the driver remains unruffled. And although he gets little screen time, Giamatti’s character plays a pivotal part in the story.

Audiences also saw Giamatti in the 2013 version of Romeo and Juilet. He takes on the role of Friar Laurence, the priest who marries the young couple and then attempts to help them escape from their families’ feuds. Again, Giamatti’s role is a relatively small one, but he brings unusual depth to the religious monk.

Abraham Zapruder is the man who captured the assassination of John F. Kennedy on home video. Giamatti plays the industrious clothing designer who is hounded by magazine editors and lawmen looking for first hand footage of the killing in the drama Parkland.

In 12 Years a Slave, Giamatti stars as the keeper of the slave pen where slaves are held for auction.

Giamatti also lent his voice talents to a pokey, cautious mollusk in the animated movie Turbo. While Turbo dreams of racing in the Indy 500, his older brother Chet (Giamatti) is a wet blanket who tries to discourage the silly ambition.

Giamatti fans can also look forward to more roles for the actor in 2014, including appearances in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the animated film The Little Prince.


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