By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Fresh off his Golden Globe-winning performance as beleaguered Barney Panofsky in “Barney’s Version,” Paul Giamatti takes the high road – or, at least, a higher road than Panofsky – to play a wrestling coach struggling to hold several lives in orbit for “Win Win.”
A small but emotionally effective ensemble drama, “Win Win” comes from Tom McCarthy, who helmed such well-received titles as “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor.” But collaborating with McCarthy wasn’t Giamatti’s sole reason for signing up with “Win Win,” which recently screened as a Headliner at the South By Southwest film festival in Austin.
“It was the money, frankly,” Giamatti told a room of reporters, filling the space with laughter. “I would have been fiscally irresponsible not to do it.”
We were doing a roundtable interview with Giamatti, asking him about his character, Mike Flaherty, a New Jersey lawyer who spends his after hours coaching high school wrestling. In all seriousness, Giamatti said it was the chance to collaborate with his old friend, McCarthy, that lured him to the project.
“More than anything, it was just Tom telling me he had a script that he wanted me to look at. I told him I didn’t even need to look at it,” Giamatti explained. “I’ve known him for 20 years. I went to drama school with him. I’ve never done anything with him. Anything. For me, he was a guy that I went out and got drunk with. That’s who Tom was to me! He was just this guy who then suddenly started making these wonderful movies. Which didn’t surprise me at all, but I don’t know. I saw these movies that he had made and thought, ‘I’d love to do something with him because he’s such a good guy, it would be really interesting to have him as my boss.’
“He also knew me really well,” Giamatti continued, “as a person and as an actor. He knew my tricks, which he kept making me avoid. But that was great. He was tough on me a lot of times, but that was OK, because he is my buddy, so it was alright.
“I really liked the world of it,” he added. “I liked that it was portraying middle-class suburban life. The character is a guy with conflicts, but he’s a good guy, and I don’t play many sorts of good guys like that, so that was sort of interesting. He’s [...]