Marcus Giamatti ’84 blames Bowdoin for his choice of professions. “They said ‘do what you love;’ they encouraged it!” he says of the mantra that has become a trademark of liberal arts institutions. But, really, Marcus has nothing to complain about after starring for six straight seasons on the CBS drama Judging Amy, in the role of Peter Grey. Judging Amy’s success (repeats are currently aired on TNT) led to several guest appearances on shows such as The X-Files, Homicide: Life on the Street, Criminal Minds, and Cold Case, which in turn led to several movie roles, including a part in Rob Schneider’s upcoming movie, The Chosen One. “I do work, and hope it leads to more work,” he says, “it’s pretty simple.”
“Work” for Marcus has a dual meaning. Although his acting jobs have provided the bulk of his income, Marcus is also an accomplished bass guitar player and believes that the two go hand in hand. “I’m very lucky to be able to do both [acting and music],” he says, “At this point I can’t really imagine doing one without the other.” During his Bowdoin years, Marcus played in “tons of bands,” (“The Threads” and “History of Brazil” being two of the more uniquely titled groups), and for his senior project he teamed up with slam poet Taylor Mali ’87 in a performance of the Sam Shepard play True West. During his post-grad years at the Yale School of Drama (which his brother, Sideways star Paul Giamatti, also attended; and where his late father, former actor and commissioner of baseball Bart Giamatti, was president), Marcus continued to write music while simultaneously working on at least five plays at once.
The realities of the business didn’t hit him until after his graduation from Yale when he found himself working as a bartender to pay bills, while flying from New York to L.A. in between Broadway productions looking for television roles. When money became tight, Marcus hit the road, traveling to all corners of the country doing regional theatre.“When you’re in grad school, you think you can do anything,” Marcus admits,“but in reality it’ll never be like [that] again.”When he started filming Judging Amy in 1999, the young actor was happy just to go to work every day. “It goes in waves,” he says of the acting industry,“but it’s still very gratifying.” Musically, Marcus works as a session and live player in L.A. and plays bass in a band for singer/songwriter (and fiancée) Olivea Watson, whose debut album,Way Down Deep, was released in September.
Compared to the countless young musicians and actors whose careers are built around fame and fortune, Marcus’s goals seem rather old-fashioned. “I just want to be a really good actor, and a really good musician, and enjoy the process,” he says. “So many things are out of your control. I try to approach every audition with creative indifference and just learn from it.” Although Judging Amy did put him on the public’s radar (people still recognize him two years after the show’s completion), Marcus takes his success with a refreshing air of practicality. He’s the first to point out that he’s no rock star, or movie star for that matter, although most fans who meet him suppose differently. “[People’s perception of] L.A. is jaded,” he says with a laugh. “They assume you’re a billionaire who rides around in a limo all day.”
Posted February 01, 2007