Ranking the Best Scenes in Which Paul Giamatti Loses His Sh*t
Paul Edward Valentine Giamatti is nothing short of a legend. Not only did he kickstart his career by playing a character nicknamed “Pig Vomit,” but he also helped spread the knowledge of that fictional sauce named Soy, and he even put California’s non-Napa Valley wine country on the map. That is one colorful résumé for a guy who either gets mistaken for Richard Dreyfuss or Larry the Cable Guy, according to the man himself.
Giamatti has been known to star in wildly random projects, but in many ways he’s also better known for getting so intense with his characters that no one would be all that surprised if he ended up spontaneously combusting on screen. It’s kind of expected at this point, because no one can lose their sh*t like Giamatti. Here, then, are some of the best times the actor and producer let loose on screen, and probably scarred his fellow actors for life…
Ranting in Italian
There are few things more delightful than an Italian ranting in Italian to a person who has no clue what they’re saying. In Showtime’s Billions, Giamatti plays Chuck Rhoades, a U.S. attorney who develops a personal vendetta against a particular hedge fund manager that completely rubs him the wrong way. Then again, it seems everyone in this show rubs Rhoades the wrong way, and it’s a hoot watching him being constantly exasperated by the people who surround him.
In the scene above (and according to the rough translations over at Reddit), Giamatti’s character curses Clancy Brown’s Jock Jeffcoat in the most demeaning ways — from spitting out words like, “Look at you, you stupid ball-licking dumbass, even dogs don’t like you,” to telling him, “You’re so full of sh*t that if you step in it, you’re a perfect match.”
Giamatti doesn’t actually speak Italian — as he tells James Corden and Michael Sheen in the video below — but he said they got an Italian fan who gave them a bunch of “old school Roman slang” to put into his monologue. You probably know what “vaffanculo” means, at least.
Playing the Worst Psychologist
While there’s not a lot to laugh about when it comes to Love & Mercy — the biographical film that tells the story of the Beach Boys’ co-founder Brian Wilson (John Cusack) and his struggles with mental illness at the hands of Dr. Eugene Landy (Giamatti) — it is no doubt a classic example of the brute force Giamatti brings to his craft. The actor plays Landy with such vigor that he truly is frightening to watch.
Turning Literally Blue
Big Fat Liar was the Hollywood kid-friendly version of Liar Liar that saw Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes dye Giamatti blue because he stole one of their school papers and turned it into a movie. It’s a cartoonish little romp that sees Giamatti not only turn into a member of the Blue Man Group, but has him absolutely lose his marbles over a prank concocted by two tweens who just want him to fess up. Never has a blue character looked so savage behind a steering wheel.
Throwing a Fire Extinguisher Through a Glass Door
Likely one of Giamatti’s lesser known films, Pretty Bird tells the story of three guys trying to build a rocket belt. We get to see Giamatti do an entrance and immediately start screaming like a banshee, only to have a bizarre conversation before throwing a fire extinguisher through a glass door. Honestly, acting must be like therapy for this guy.
Getting All Presidential
Sure, it’s Hollywood Law that any courtroom story should at least have a handful of scenes where someone passionately yells about justice or whatever. It is not often, however, that we get to see Giamatti sporting a snow-white wig and spit fire at what people think the law should and should not be. There are many scenes like this in the 2008 miniseries John Adams, but there are also other occasions outside of court where Giamatti — who plays the second president of the United States — goes on feverish rants or explodes with contempt at whoever says something stupid.
The scene above (and the one below) brilliantly illustrates how Giamatti doesn’t just unleash his vocal wrath upon a fellow actor at a whim. No siree, the actor uses his natural intensity to build up to the inevitable lashing. Trust Giamatti to turn a phrase like “Good day, sir!” into a sick burn.
Getting All Royal
Arguably the best thing about Ironclad is that we got to see Giamatti and Brian Cox act opposite each other in this tale about King John being a royal prick. Cox, at first, makes Giamatti’s character look weak and pathetic, until King John retaliates and goes off on him in a scene that surely cost Giamatti his voice for at least a day.
Losing It in Billions, Again
Not only is this one of Giamatti’s best television performances ever, but the show has, like, 25 seasons — which means a lot of material for Giamatti to digest and then vomit out and onto whichever poor sod’s playing opposite him at any given time. He’s bad, bad Leroy Brown, and he practically salivates like a Pitbull in this particular scene.
Refusing a Glass of Merlot
Labeled by many as Giamatti’s best performance to date, Sideways gave us the actor’s take on a depressed, self-loathing and unpublished writer who apparently loves wine more than serotonin. Except for Merlot. No effin’ Merlot.
We’d also probably get trashed if we didn’t include the scene where he finds out his manuscript has been rejected, again, only to proceed and go to town on a spit bucket at a wine tasting.
Really, Really, Really Despising Howard Stern
Yes, the movie that put Giamatti on everyone’s radar was the one in which he completely blows up and calls Howard Stern the Antichrist. His ability to unleash the anger, even back then, set the tone for things to come. Bless him, for there is no person more enjoyable to watch yelling literally anything at practically anyone, than Paul Giamatti.