Paul Giamatti Wants To Make A Private Detective Movie With Alexander Payne – Exclusive

The Holdovers

by Ben Travis |
Updated on

When Paul Giamatti teams up with filmmaker Alexander Payne, you tend to get something special. First came Sideways in 2004, a drily hilarious wine odyssey which temporarily tanked sales of Merlot thanks to a vociferous rant from Giamatti’s Miles. Now, two decades later, the filmmaker and star are back for brilliant new film The Holdovers – a warm and wonderful Christmas-set comedy-drama about lonely losers stuck in a boarding school together over the festive season, in which Giamatti plays the Scrooge-like, fish-smelling, cantankerous teacher Mr. Hunham. While it’s taken 20-odd years for the two to team up again, make no mistake: they’re hoping to continue working together, and without so much of a gap next time.

“I still harbour some hopes that you and I do a private-detective thing,” Giamatti tells Payne in Empire’s new joint interview with the pair. “I saw you say to somebody the other day that you would relish doing a movie where I got beaten up and shot at. And I thought, ‘Me too, that sounds great.’” Payne’s suggestion? Pick “a good Travis McGee novel”, and bring John D. MacDonald’s sleuth to the screen. “All the Travis McGee novels are pretty good!” notes Giamatti.

Whatever the detective character ends up being, it sounds like a Giamatti-Payne detective movie would have to take place in a distinctive setting. “Another thing about working with Alexander is his incredible sensitivity and love of place,” Giamatti says. “Each one of his movies are as much about the place that they’re in as the people.” Take, for instance, Florida. “Here’s what’s fun about Florida,” begins Payne. “One of my best friends grew up in Tampa and he’s been encouraging me for decades to do something in Florida because he says Florida is to the United States what Venice and Italy were to Shakespeare. This hot and sweaty land of Byzantine intrigue.”

Either way, expect more collaborations from the pair in the future. Payne gives a definitive “Yes” to the prospect. “I don’t have a screenplay yet,” he says. “Paul, if you’re offered something good that doesn’t have a director attached, please keep me in mind.” Start holding out for a Holdovers reunion now.

Empire – February 2024 – Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes cover

Read Empire’s full The Holdovers interview with Paul Giamatti and Alexander Payne in the Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes issue, on sale Thursday 21 December. Order a copy online here. The Holdovers comes to UK cinemas on 19 January.

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