One of my favorite movies of all-time is Sideways. The comedy-drama revolves around two middle-aged men, Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), who are both at a crossroads in their lives. Miles is divorced and struggling to write his novel, and Jack is about to get married. The two embark opt for a road-trip to Napa Valley, where infidelity, secrets, and lots of wine is indulged.

The movie merited several Oscar nominations when it was released in 2004, one of them for Thomas Haden Church, a career character-actor with an enviable resume. He's been in everything from the long-running sitcom Wings to Spider-Man 3 alongside Tobey Maguire. Just in time for the release of his latest film, Accidental Texan, Church was kind enough to join me to talk about that project and some key roles in his career.

What is Accidental Texan?:

I could post a plot synopsis of Accidental Texan, but Thomas Haden Church described it lovingly, with his recognizable thundering baritone voice, in our interview:

I play Merle, he has a family drilling business that is at the brink of disaster, and a young man shows up in town played by Rudy Pankow [....] He plays an actor, who has just stumbled into town. [Our characters] meet [....] and figure out a way that's advantageous for us both to partner. I think it's a very charming, really kind of a hopeful story about both of us, the community, and it's funny, it's poignant, and it kind of touches on a lot of entertainment points. - Thomas Haden Church

Based on a book called Chocolate Lizards by Cole Thompson (a reference to a style of cowboy boots), the film hits theaters on Friday, March 8th, 2024. In addition to Accidental Texan, Church set the record straight on one of the most popular behind-the-scenes stories about the movie that got him an Oscar nomination...

Photo Credit: Roadside Attractions
Photo Credit: Roadside Attractions

Did Thomas Haden Church Audition for Sideways Completely Naked?:

After Sideways was released, it came out that Thomas Haden Church initially stripped naked to audition for the role of Jack. It was for a purpose. There's a scene in the movie where Jack is caught in a predicament, is completely naked, and vulnerable to everyone within sight.

Church clarified that he initially stripped naked for the audition, but then elected to put his shorts back on before he read for the role. The rest is history. He got the part of Jack, Sideways was a critical and financial hit, it merited several Oscar nominations, and it's one of director Alexander Payne's best movies.

Photo Credit: Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

Church Touched on His Friendship with Paul Giamatti:

20 years after the release of Sideways, both director Alexander Payne and actor Paul Giamatti are in the headlines again because their second collaboration, The Holdovers, is up for several Oscars ahead of this weekend's Academy Awards. Giamatti is even nominated for Best Actor. It was my favorite movie of 2023.

Church spoke about his longtime friendship with Giamatti, and how he felt that The Holdovers was a beautiful movie for Giamatti because of how close-to-home it was for him. In the movie, he plays a professor tasked with chaperoning several students at a boarding school who, for one reason or another, can't go home for the holidays. Giamatti comes from a long line of professors and family members who worked in academia. Payne tailormade the role for him, and Church expressed his excitement for everything that's come since.

Take a Listen To My Exclusive Interview!:

Take a listen to my interview with Thomas Haden Church below, and find out more about Accidental Texan on IMDb!

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Gallery Credit: Aine Givens

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