from Montreal Gazette
CANNES - Life looks crazy if you're Paul Giamatti. The 44-year-old actor is in Cannes for the first time with David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, and he can't believe the energy of the film festival.
"I thought Venice was nutty but this is nuttier," he says. "Now the French are making the Italians look sane, which is pretty hard to do."
Giamatti hadn't worked with Cronenberg before, but he was excited to hear that someone was adapting one of Don DeLillo's novels. The script, with its single very long scene for his character, won him over completely.
"I thought the script was just bonkers," he says. "And then the part was really interesting. And then it's also 20 minutes long. That doesn't come along very often."
Giamatti plays Benno Levin, a deranged man whose encounter with the Wall Street financier played by Robert Pattinson constitutes the final act of Cronenberg's new movie. It was Giamatti's first encounter with the vampire heartthrob.
"I've never seen the Twilight movies," he admits. "I knew who he was but only vaguely. I didn't even know he was English. When I walked in he was just a guy who was really good and knew what he was doing. He was so ready and in command of it he helped me. It calmed me down and pulled me in."
He shot the pivotal scene while making another movie, flying from Miami to Toronto and back again. "I was thinking about it a lot on my own while I was doing that other movie," he says, "and fortunately that other movie was not that demanding on me so I had time. I felt prepared."
He's having a great time at Cannes (for all its nuttiness), but recounts a weird brush-off from Alexander Payne, who directed him in 2004's Sideways but is now forbidden from talking to the cast and crew of the films in competition. "I saw him but he said, ÔYou can't talk to me.' I'd forgotten that he was on the jury here."
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