Rodriguez says, "Working with such a high-caliber artist like Giamatti was an absolute dream come true. The curmudgeon you see on screen is the complete opposite of Giamatti in person.
Paul Hunham (Giamatti) is a totally unlikeable teacher to his students, fellow co-workers teachers, and headmaster. He's self-centered and troublesome.
Over the Christmas holiday in 1970, Paul remains at school to supervise students unable to journey home. After a few days, only one student holdover remains -- a trouble-making 15-year-old named Angus, a good student whose bad behavior always threatens to get him expelled.
Joining Paul and Angus is the head cook Mary (Randolph)-an African American woman who caters to sons of privilege and whose own son was recently lost in Vietnam. These three very different shipwrecked people form an unlikely Christmas family sharing comic misadventures during two very snowy weeks in New England.
The real journey is how they help one another understand that they are not beholden to their past-they can choose their own futures.
Rodriguez was floored when he received a personal call from the director himself. "a very rare thing in this industry," said Rodriguez. "I was deeply humbled by the recognition that Alexander Payne gave me".
"You come to realize after working with Alex why he called me personally to tell me I was cast. He is a director that cares about the people he is working with and he is passionate about working closely with his actors to help them bring their best to their role.
I really admire him as a person and as a director. It's obvious why he won an Oscar".
Even though the Pharmacist is a smaller supporting role, Rodriguez feels it's important to the sequence of events. He considers it to be a privilege to collaborate with such a talented cast and crew. He is also excited to represent his hometown of Boston in this wonderfully endearing film that I think will be loved by many.
(partial reference from IMDb The Holdovers' home page)