This Sunday, Paul Giamatti will sit amongst Hollywood's glitterati at the Golden Globes waiting to hear his name announced in the Best Actor, Comedy or Musical, category. Nominated alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Spacey and Johnny Depp, with double dip nods, Giamatti is favored to win the award for his role as a belligerent but loveable alcoholic in the dark comedy, "Barney's Version."
But at the film's press day in Beverly Hills, the actor, who racked up 45 award nominations and 26 wins (a 57% win average) from 2001 to 2008, told PopcornBiz that watching himself onscreen made him feel "just appalled."
While Giamatti admitted he's grown less judgmental over the years, he can't help but be extremely critical of himself, though he insists it's all for the sake of his craft. "I'm not gonna get any better if I don't," he explained. "And no one else is going to pick me apart--well, they will--but I want to learn so I have to pick myself apart. I think I do it in a more useful way than I used to. It used to be dismissive. I couldn't even watch."
Then why continue acting, we asked?
"That's the question!" he hooted. "It's complicated. When I started acting, I didn't know I would do film as much. I did stage stuff. That was much easier because you don't have to see yourself. One of the reasons I go back [to film] is because I want to get better at it. I really didn't like what I saw but I kept going back because I was like, 'Well, f--k it, I'm gonna get better at this!'"
Despite his frequent award nominations and consistent critical acclaim, Giamatti told us, "I don't think I've ever slam dunked something, like, nailed it completely."
When we pointed out his award-winning turn as John Adams in the HBO miniseries, which won more Emmys than any project in history, he vigorously shook his head.
"No! No no no no! I didn't nail that at all. But there's things I like in that. I'm not happy about the whole performance, no, but how could I be? It's nine hours long, man. I couldn't get everything right. But there are performances where I've done better."
Asked how he's handling the growing awards buzz surrounding his performance in "Barney's Version," Giamatti grimaced and offered the most sound-bite ready answer he can muster.
"It's great," he began, with a plastered-on smile, before confessing, "Yeah, it's weird," he laughed. "I try not to pay too much attention to it. What's nice about it, especially with something like this, is if it means people will actually see this movie, which is such a weird, obscure Canadian-Italian movie, if the awards thing means people see it, then great. Other than that, it's nice, but it's weird."
"Barney's Version" opens Jan. 14, the Golden Globes air live on NBC Sunday, Jan. 16.