Paul Giamatti’s version of Hollywood stardom means playing losers, schlumps and low-lifes and loving it

Paul Giamatti does not need to be liked.

He is, as it happens, a likable man — funny, literate and endlessly self-deprecating. He has friends and colleagues and a wife and a 9-year-old son and Brooklyn neighbors who will all shout his praises, if called upon, and that is nice.

But on-screen, Giamatti has made a habit — in fact, a brilliant career — out of playing exasperated curmudgeons.

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