It's easy to hate a jerk. Or a cranky alcoholic. Or a completely self-absorbed ass. And it's an uncomfortable feeling when an actor plays those characters in a way that makes you really care about them. You end up questioning your notions of right and wrong, of good and evil - and often, that's a mark of a really good film.
Paul Giamatti plays dark and conflicted souls with so much heart, often, you want to hug him and smack him all the same time. You probably remember Barney Panofsky in 'Barney's Version' -- the film based on the book by Can-lit giant Mordecai Richler. That role earned Paul several Best Actor awards at the Genies and the Golden Globes. His depiction of eccentric comic-book artist Harvey Pekar in 'American Splendor' got him an Oscar nomination ... and his role as the difficult Miles Raymond in the indie hit 'Sideways' won him a Screen Actors Guild Award.
After that, the scripts came fast and furious, and Paul chose to play the leading man in movies like 'Cinderella Man' and 'The Illusionist'. The HBO mini-series 'John Adams' brought Paul an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the Founding Father. Pretty amazing for a guy who didn't always want to be an actor.
Recently, Paul was startled by a script he received in which his bitter, deranged character had just one single 20-minute scene at the very end of the film. The film? 'Cosmopolis', based on the novel by Don DeLillo and directed by David Cronenberg.