TVGuide.com: I screened Amazing Screw-On Head the other day and it is so freakin' funny. I've been raving to everyone about it.
Paul Giamatti: I think it's pretty great. The animation is great, too. It's beautiful, kind of cool-looking.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, it's almost retro even outside of the fact that Abe Lincoln is in charge.
Giamatti: I love the whole thing with the flip cards that make Lincoln's mouth move [when he summons Amazing Screw-On Head via a "private line"]!
TVGuide.com: And the way David Hyde Pierce's villain speaks? Priceless. Now how did you first become familiar with the source material?
Giamatti: I'm not a huge comic-book guy, but I appreciate them sometimes I'll go to a comic-book store and pick things up and this happened to be one that a bunch of years ago I looked at. So when they came to me with the idea of the cartoon, I had already known about it.
TVGuide.com: Are you merely contractually obligated, or perhaps personally vested, in continuing on if it goes to series?
Giamatti: Oh, I would love to keep doing it, absolutely.
TVGuide.com: Even though you're now "Paul Giamatti, Film Star"?
Giamatti: [Laughs] Even though I am now "Paul Giamatti, Film Star," yes.
TVGuide.com: Do you like the idea of the fans having a say in Screw-On Head's fate? Or are such matters best left in the hands of network suits?
Giamatti: [Laughs] No, I say let's take it out of the hands of suits and put it in the hands of the people, and see what they think. It's a fine idea, an excellent idea in the case of this thing.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk about your many upcoming films. I mean, is there one in the second half of 2006 that you are not in?
Giamatti: Hopefully I'm not in a lot. [Laughs] Hopefully theaters will not be featuring me constantly, because it will drive America out in droves.
TVGuide.com: Just think, an entire Cineplex could almost do a Paul Giamatti film festival.
Giamatti: Can you picture that? What a gloomy place that would be.
TVGuide.com: You once said the kudos you have received don't feel "really real" yet the jobs keep pouring in.
Giamatti: Well, the jobs feel very real. Those are nice, and it's flattering to get the jobs. But yeah, the nice press I was getting [after Sideways and Cinderella Man]... that feels still unreal to me.
TVGuide.com: This past weekend I was hanging out with a bunch of film critics, and I heard a variety of very interesting perspectives on Lady in the Water [opening July 21]....
Giamatti: I'm interested to hear what you have to say, sir! I am, actually, because I had a hard time gauging what [a screening audience] thought, and I'm so curious to see what people think of this movie. Now be honest, how'd they sound? You can be completely frank with me.
TVGuide.com: Some loved it, some really liked it.... And some said it's a bit tricky to get into.
Giamatti: A lot of people seemed baffled by it, which was interesting to me.
TVGuide.com: Apparently it has that special but not typical M. Night Shyamalan something going for it.
Giamatti: This is correct. It's interesting to me that people found it difficult to get into. I'd be interested to know what you think of it when you see it.
TVGuide.com: So it's worth plopping down the $10?
Giamatti: Definitely, definitely. It's a really ambitious movie, and the people who go with it are definitely rewarded by it.
TVGuide.com: Also this weekend, Miss Scarlett Johansson was raving about working with you on The Nanny Diaries even though you play a rather despicable character.
Giamatti: I get to grab her ass in this movie!
TVGuide.com: OK, you are now my hero.
Giamatti: Right? I'm my own hero I worship myself for that.
TVGuide.com: What is it about your Nanny Diaries character that is so....
Giamatti: Repulsive? [Laughs] He's just cold. Cold, cold, cold, always thinking about his money, and tail. That's it.
TVGuide.com: Why is he called "Mr. X"?
Giamatti: The book it's based on is ostensibly autobiographical, so the woman never named names. They do a lot of funny stuff with that in the movie as they retain this idea that you never hear their names. It's like an "official report" kind of thing, and all the names are blacked out.
TVGuide.com: Scarlett, I have to say, is excellent in Woody Allen's upcoming movie, Scoop. What was your experience with her?
Giamatti: She was fantastic. She's only 21, did you know that? Man, that's weird. She doesn't seem it at all. Like [Lady in the Water's] Bryce Howard, she's one of those young actresses who's really sophisticated. These people are kind of beyond my abilities in some ways; I'm sort of still fumbling around, and they're the real experts.
TVGuide.com: You're also in Vince Vaughn's slacker-brother-of-Santa-Claus movie. What's the title these days?
Giamatti: Good question! I think it's Joe Claus. Apparently there was somebody named Fred Claus who objected to it or something. We start that in mid-September.
TVGuide.com: What will be your special take on Santa?
Giamatti: That's a really good question. I'm not sure. I'm going to look like a full-on, full-blown Santa Claus, with a full-body prosthetic of some kind....
TVGuide.com: Why a prosthetic? Why not just binge on a pizza and ice-cream diet for the next few months?
Giamatti: Oh, that would kill me.
TVGuide.com: But... that's what Russell Crowe would do....
Giamatti: [Laughs] You know what? Russell Crowe would be a good Santa Claus.
TVGuide.com: No, he wouldn't!
Giamatti: Sure he would! Just put him in a fat suit. But you're right, Russell Crowe would [bulk up for it], so you've thrown down the gauntlet. I'll do it.
TVGuide.com: Could you have ever asked Santa for a better film career, Paul?
Giamatti: [Laughs] No, I could not have. Indeed, I could not have. No lump of coal for me!