I have loved actor, Paul Giamatti, since his breakthrough role as the verbally abused Kenny “Pig Vomit” Rushton in the 1997 comedy Howard Stern biopic, Private Parts.
The New Haven, Conn-born actor has garnered acclaim and respect for his various leading and supporting roles ranging from John Adams in the 2008 HBO miniseries, John Adams to NWA manager Jerry Heller in Straight Outta Compton.
His talent is so versatile, he was even able to stand out as the comically villainous Rhino in the mostly terrible Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Now the SAG, Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor is the subject of an extremely original, little bit off the wall short called, Wax Paul Now.
The short film, which is being screened at the AFI Fest 2019 Presented by Audi, started as a grassroots effort by three talented female filmmakers – Tonight Show writer Rebecca Shaw, comedian Val Bodurtha and New York-based writer Sophie Mann.
Apparently, after the trio visited Madame Tussauds Times Square, they discovered the museum encourages its attendees to suggest a celebrity to next be turned into one of their wax statues. The girls see an opportunity to express their appreciation for Giamatti.
They sent multiple emails, but despite the museum’s earlier encouragement to do so, they are unanswered and ignored. The three women, confused and spurned, stepped up their game and start an online movement to get Paul Giamatti his own statue at Madame Tussauds.
Thus, the viral “Wax Paul Now” movement was born. The project was covered by Vulture, Forbes, The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and even featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Finally, Madame Tussauds reached out, offering to throw a party in Paul’s honor. The three were confident that they won, but Madame Tussauds finally responded by saying a statue is just not part of their plan.
Thus, their short mockumentary, Wax Paul Now was born. Watch the trailer below:
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I have to admit when I first heard about Wax Paul Now, my initial thought was he does look like a hairy man, but that is his perogative. What was the inspiration?
Val: The call-to-action of our cause has always been a resounding, “Why not?” Paul has worked consistently and enthusiastically in over a hundred projects. He deserves a statue because he represents understated, under-appreciated quality and and hard work. And he should have a statue because it’s something he’d never ask for himself.
What was the final catalyst that made you decide to make the short? It’s a very original concept I have to say.
Sophie: Thank you! When the Wax Paul Now campaign was met with so much resistance from Madame Tussauds, even though we’d received so much positive coverage and grassroots support, we realized that a short film was the next logical step in getting our point across. The film chronicles the next stages of Wax Paul Now’s journey, and hopefully will make even more people aware of the current injustice taking place at Madame Tussauds. But it is by no means the end of our story.
When did production take place?
Rebecca: Production started after the Wax Paul Now movement went viral online. Specifically, the film started in March 2018, on the night that Madame Tussauds invited us to a “Gallery of Giamatti.” We invited cameras to the event because we assumed they Madame Tussauds would be announcing that they were making the statue, and we hoped to capture the big reveal on film. After it was made horribly clear that we wouldn’t be receiving the statue, we kept the cameras rolling through that fateful summer.
I know PG heard about the grassroots effort but who reached out to who first for the short?
Val: Nobody did! In a wondrous chance encounter, I ran into him on my college campus (after I got about ten texts informing me that he was there). I walked up to him and introduced myself and he swept me into a big hug, thanking me and the movement for our efforts. After catching up over the Colbert segment, I told Paul about our intentions to turn the cause into a film, and to our utmost gratitude he agreed to make an appearance. The next thing we knew, we were on set in Times Square.
What was it like working with him? Was this a dream fulfilled?
Sophie: I don’t think we’ve ever been so happy to be correct. He was patient, attentive, humble, and respectful of what we were trying to accomplish. Everyone should take notes on how that man holds himself.
I have heard of directing duos but never a trio. What was it like all three of you directing? What roles did you each play? Who would the crew approach first. Was someone good cop with the crew? Bad cop? In-between cop/Switzerland?
Rebecca: At every turn, we’ve found having three directors to be tremendously useful. In the writing and brainstorming phase, we use each other as sounding boards, and throw a million ideas out there before moving ahead. We have a deep respect for each other’s opinions, enough to voice and then still shelve our own points of view when the situation demands it.
And when the cameras start rolling, there’s a huge advantage to having two other people you trust to make creative calls, especially with a project as logistically ambitious as Wax Paul Now.
Our trust in each other’s creative voices allows us to make quick decisions and effectively be in many places at once — which comes in handy when you’re, say, using hidden cameras to record two actors genuinely trying to sneak a wax statue into Madame Tussauds.
When you shot at Madame Tussauds did they know you were shooting? Were they in on it, this is publicity for them after all?
Val: The part of the short where the strippers attempt to sneak our statue into Madame Tussauds was shot guerilla-style. Our brilliant actors went in ready to improvise with whatever they encountered once inside the museum – if they even got that far.
The cameramen then determinedly went in after them to make sure all pertinent footage was captured. Though we were briefly in contact with Madame Tussauds during the early stages of our campaign, they were unaware of the filming of this project and have since stopped responding to our emails. We probably would stop too, if we were in their position.
Has Madame Tussauds seen the short at all?
Sophie: To the best of our knowledge they have not! Our sincerest hope is that they see it and are finally spurred to action to get Paul the wax statue he has deserved for so long.
Dream Team question. Who do you want to get waxed next?
Rebecca: Next? Next? As far as we are concerned, the single issue that this campaign was formed around remains unresolved. Paul, at this moment, remains statue-less. So by way of who should go “next,” our answer is as consistent and steadfast as ever – Paul Giamatti.
Not so fast ladies. This crack journalist (journalist accused of being on crack) did a little digging and on your website it clearly says… Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan.
Reel 360 wishes Val, Rebecca and Sophie the best of luck with getting Paul Giamatti waxed.
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