TORONTO – American actor Paul Giamatti will offer up his version of the Mordecai Richler tale “Barney’s Version.”
Producer Robert Lantos says Giamatti will take the title role in his film adaptation of the Giller Prize-winning novel. Lantos says he’s been working on a big screen version for 12 years and finally has “a screenplay that is worthy of Richler’s magnificent book.”
And for years, Lantos says, he’s imagined Giamatti in the role of the ornery protagonist, Barney Panofsky.
Giamatti recently netted a series of acting trophies for his portrayal of the title character in the HBO series “John Adams.”
Principal photography on the Canada-Italy co-production will begin Aug. 17 in Rome, Montreal, the Laurentians and New York.
“Mordecai Richler’s books have played a seminal role in my life,” Lantos said Thursday in a release.
“‘Barney’s Version’ ” is my favourite and after 12 years of development, we finally have a screenplay that is worthy of Richler’s magnificent book. For years whenever I visualized Barney, I saw Paul Giamatti in the role. He is an actor of immense gifts and born to play this part. It will be a treat to watch him embody Barney.”
Giamatti’s other films include “Cinderella Man,” “Sideways” and “The Illusionist.”
“Barney’s Version” recounts the life of the impulsive, irascible, hard-drinking and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky. Richler’s 10th and final novel was published in 1997. He died in 2001.
Film adaptations of Richler’s novels include 1974’s “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” starring Richard Dreyfuss and “Joshua Then and Now” in 1985 starring James Woods and Alan Arkin.
Lantos’ credits include “Eastern Promises”, “Being Julia”, “Sunshine”, “The Sweet Hereafter” and the Atom Egoyan-directed “Adoration,” to be released in May.
Richard J. Lewis will direct from the screenplay adaptation by Michael Konyves.
The film is a co-production between Canada’s Serendipity Point Films and Italy’s Fandango.
“Barney’s Version” was a runaway bestseller in Italy, and Richler was treated like a rock star when he visited the country on a book tour.