Paul Giamatti ’85 was awarded the School’s Alumni Award for his accomplishments in theater, television and film. The presentation was made at a School Meeting on April 3. Giamatti was introduced by Choate classmate and former president of the Choate Rosemary Hall Alumni Association Susan Barclay ’85. A citation was then read by Headmaster Alex D. Curtis before turning the program over to James Gong ’15 and Will Born ’15, members of Choate's Film Society, for a question and answer period.
The Alumni Awards are presented annually to alumni who have demonstrated leadership and outstanding achievement in a given field of endeavor, and/or have made a significant contribution to country, community or School.
Giamatti’s award recognizes not only his acclaimed work in John Adams, Sideways, American Splendor, Cinderella Man, The Illusionist and Win-Win, but also his roles in independent movies and television shows. He is presently performing the title role in the Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of Hamlet.
Following the school meeting, former Dean of Faculty Ed Maddox and Mr. Giamatti continued fielding questions from interested students in the Arts Center gallery where an animated discussion ensued. The Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning actor talked about his experiences in theater as a student at Choate. Asked about his next film project, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Giamatti said he was excited to play the role of Rhino, the Marvel Comics character whose real name is Aleksei Sytsevich. A member of the Russian mafia, Aleksei is given superhuman abilities. His powers are further enhanced by a suit he wears on top of his thick-armored skin.
When asked how he picks his scripts, he said, “If I am compelled to keep reading it, I know it’s a good script.” He spoke about his preparation for Hamlet, re-reading the play for four months before the production at the Yale Repertory. By reading the play constantly, he said, “you begin to internalize the dialogue until it becomes part of your belly.”
When asked about his favorite class at Choate, he recalled Jo van Straalen’s Russian history course as being one of the most memorable. To this day, Giamatti remains a voracious reader of history.
A second Alumni Award was presented at the April 24 school meeting. Paula Loyd ’90 was honored posthumously for her outstanding achievement and sacrifice in the cause of public service.