Paul Giamatti and Alexander Payne pair up again for ‘The Holdovers’. For “The Holdovers,” a Christmastime story about a trio of unusual friends that had its world debut on Wednesday at the London Film Festival, actor Paul Giamatti and director Alexander Payne reunite after nearly 20 years apart.
Paul Hunham, a teacher of ancient history at a prestigious New England boarding school for boys, is portrayed by Giamatti, who also starred in Alexander Payne’s 2004 Oscar-winning film “Sideways.” To his dismay, the grumpy, unpopular professor is responsible for caring for “the holdovers,” a small group of students without a place to stay, during the 1970 winter break.
Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), the academy’s head cook, is the only adult on the deserted, closed-off campus. Mary just lost her son in Vietnam. After a rocky beginning, the two-week holiday proves to be a rejuvenating experience for Hunham, Mary, and disturbed student Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa).
Giamatti was given the part of Hunham in the comedy-drama especially. Giamatti, who could not attend the London premiere owing to the actors’ strike, was praised by Payne, 62, for his ability to make even weak material work. “I’ve been saying this for 20 years since ‘Sideways,’ give him good dialogue and it’s even better,” Payne said of Giamatti.
David Hemingson, who wrote “The Holdovers,” assumed he was the victim of a prank call when Payne called him “out of the blue” after reading a pilot screenplay about his time in prep school. This represents my childhood as it has been somewhat forced through a sieve of various conditions. Hemingson declared, “I’ve never done anything more personal.
Downsizing, The Descendants and Election director Alexander Payne wanted to write a fun narrative with the look and feel of a 1970s picture.
“I like making comedies, but comedies that hopefully make you think a little bit, too.” This November, “The Holdovers” opens in American theaters. It will be distributed internationally in early 2024.