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Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti Get Inside John Adams' Head

One thing we learned at Wednesday night's private screening of HBO's upcoming miniseries on John Adams is what miniseries producer Tom Hanks and actor Paul Giamatti, who plays the second president, think about the current Democratic superdelegate madness.

How would Adams, a Federalist (and a Massachusetts delegate to the first continental congress), have thought Democratic superdelegates should handle their awesome role in this year's election?

"I think he'd say those delegates should go to the convention and vote for whatever damn person they want," Hanks told us.

And what does Hanks himself think they should do -- vote with the will of the people, or choose whomever they like best (or whomever lobbies them the hardest)?

"I'm loathe to say," he said, wrinkling his forehead, resting his arm on a ledge in the grand marbled Cannon House office building foyer.

But if his thoughts on Adams reflected his own views, it's a bit odd, given that Hanks is a supporter of Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate who, so far, seems to have the will of the people behind him.

Hanks maxed out in campaign contributions to Obama this cycle, giving him $4,600, according to federal records. (He also maxed out to fellow funny man and Minnesota Democratic senatorial candidate Al Franken.)

Hanks, Giamatti, members of Congress and others mixed it up at a reception in the Capitol's Statuary Hall before walking across the street to Cannon for more milling about before the actual screening in the Cannon Caucus Room.

Hanks and Pelosi
Tom Hanks sits with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the screening of a new HBO miniseries on the life of John Adams, at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 5, 2008. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst )

Giamatti ("Sideways" and "Cindarella Man") hasn't given money to any politician this cycle. And he absolutely refused to tell us who he's supporting for president. Though he did offer that he didn't vote in his state's New York primary, he was out of the country.

Asked to get in character and assume how Adams would recommend handling the superdelegate schism, Giamatti said, "I think he'd be largely annoyed at the whole thing."

And you, Paul? "It's too goddamn confusing for me to follow," he deadpanned.

As for what it's like to play John Adams, he said, "It's a little strange for me. I never imagined I'd be playing president of the United States." Before the start of the screening, Hanks joked that Giamatti is "a little bit better looking than John Adams."

Hanks was introduced before the screening by Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), whose district includes the Adams homestead in Quincy. Delahunt said he considers himself a "direct political descendant" of President John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, and a "relative of sorts" to the entire Adams family.

And the congressman gave this random bit of trivia: Tom Hanks, through his mother's side of the family, is a distant relative of Abraham Lincoln.

The seven-part HBO miniseries is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Adams written by David McCullough, who was also there last night. It airs next week.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  March 6, 2008; 12:30 PM ET
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