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September 23, 2014

Paul Giamatti to play John Adams in HBO miniseries

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 21st 2006 10:11AM
Paul Giamatti and John AdamsIf you were casting a miniseries about the American Revolution, concentrating on John Adams, who would be the first person you would think of to play the second president? That's right, the name Paul Giamatti doesn't come to mind right away, does it? Well, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman did; they're producting a seven-hour HBO miniseries based on the David McCullough book John Adams, and they cast Giamatti in the title role. He'll play Adams during the revolutionary years, when he stoked the revolt behind-the-scenes. The series is set to start shooting in January and will begin airing in March 2008.

I've got to say, resemblance-wise, it doesn't seem to be a match. Even tempermant-wise, I'm not sure. Adams was more of a low-key guy, while almost every role Giamatti's played has been on the high-strung or emotional side. If anyone's got the acting chops to pull this off, though, it's Giamatti. And he'll be the only actor that can say he played both a Founding Father and Pig Vomit.

(UPDATE: I have been taken to task by the readers for calling Adams "low-key." Apparently, my knowledge of American history needs an update, because Adams was supposedly a big pain in the ass. So Giamatti might be perfect for the role.)

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Barbara

As a direct descendant of Mr. Adams, I think the choice admirable. Adams was considered a "rude yankee" by some of his southern counterparts, however, he was admired for his intelligence and spirit. He was Harvard educated, honest and direct. Perhaps those who are confused by this should actually read McCullough's book, upon which this series is based.

September 14 2006 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bubbly2c

I think Paul is an inspired choice for John Adams. Joel, is living in lala land and so isn't required to be accurate on anything older than last week....

As for Abigail, I think Maura Tierney would be the ideal choice. Abigail was the manager of the Adams farm for the many years John was away and was the first U.S. woman citizen to lobby for women's rights - repeatedly but lovingly to her husband ("ray, John, Please do not forget the ladies...") I think Maura would do a great job in this larger than life role....

August 27 2006 at 11:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
C, F,

The comment about John Adams temperment was right off- Adams was a man of fiery temperment, and was always happy to make his views LOUD and clear, which is a big part of why many of Adams' peers found him obnoxious and bothersome.

August 24 2006 at 8:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scott mclendon

Is Virginia Madsen going to play Abigail?

August 22 2006 at 9:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
erroneous_nick

Is that picture of Giamatti from a mugshot? It's just really bad.

August 21 2006 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GC in CA

I think that this is actually an inspired bit of casting. Giamatti is not whom I would have immediately thought of to play Adams, but thinking back on the various things I've read about him over the years, it makes sense, both in terms of physicality and disposition. Adams was short, pudgy, and balding, and I don't know where you got your description of him as "low key," Joel, but he was anything but. Headstrong, tempermental, and bullying is more like it. He was one of the faces of the American Revolution, and he was persistently annoyed/afraid that history would forget about him in favor of the likes of Franklin and Jefferson, whose public personae were more obviously likable.

Hanks and his producing partners have shown a knack for creative casting in their past HBO miniseries, choosing actors that didn't make much sense until you saw their performances: Bryan Cranston (from "Malcolm in the Middle") as Buzz Aldrin and Dave Foley (from "Kids in the Hall" and "NewsRadio") as Alan Bean in "From the Earth to the Moon," for example. Or Damian Lewis (who?) as Winters and Donnie Wahlberg (a New Kid!?!) as Lipton in "Band of Brothers".

August 21 2006 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
john

He did play the voice for the lead character of the comic-to-cartoon "Amazing Screw-on Head" for the Sci-fi channel. The cartoon was set in the 1800s. He played a robot, with a screw-on head (natch), that worked for Lincoln.

August 21 2006 at 1:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott

Just to tie together posts 1 & 2, William Daniels, who was the quintessential John Adams in "1776" (the Broadway musical and the movie) played a similarly temper-prone, unlikable character on "St. Elsewhere" -- the great Dr. Mark Craig, still for my money one of the best, inspirational and horrible, multi-dimensional TV characters EVER.

August 21 2006 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tyler

are you sure the press releas was right and they didn't cast him for the part of SAM adams. JOHN adams wasn't very behind the scenes when it came to stoking the revolution but SAM adams was very much so.

August 21 2006 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Porchland

I hope the producers can work his wine-bucket gag into it. That was hi-LAR-ious! ;-)

August 21 2006 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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