Paul Giamatti has played a broad range of characters, from a station manager in Howard Stern’s “Private Parts” to John Adams in the award-winning HBO series of the same name. In his latest role (for which he earned a Golden Globe at last night’s award show), he plays the hard-drinking, foul-mouthed Barney Panofsky in “Barney’s Version,” a film based on the Mordecai Richler novel.
The film, which opened in limited release January 14, traces Panofsky’s life through three generations and just as many wives. Giamatti recently spoke with the Forward’s Curt Schleier about the challenges of playing a not-so-politically-correct Jewish man:
Curt Schleier: Were you aware of the book and Richler before you got involved with the film?
Paul Giamatti: I was aware of [the book], but I had not read it. I knew who the author was, but I never read anything by him. I’d always gathered he was like a Philip Roth or a Saul Bellow or something like that.
Barney is not a very nice guy, is he?