STANLEY TUCCI: ‘I didn’t want to go through life just as myself’

The fabulous Stanley Tucci talks things movie making, Hollywood, and the darker sides to his characters

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It is easy to see why Stanley Tucci is such a beloved actor. From classics such as ‘Devil Wears Prada’, performances in massive money-making franchise ‘The Hunger Games’, and his chilling and disturbing performance in ‘The Lovely Bones’, his versatility and talent is admirable. 

Tucci’s presence was effortless. Winning over the audience with his  charisma, Tucci answered all questions with honesty, integrity, and his lighthearted charm.

The typical questions posed to all actors that pass through the Union doors were first addressed: Why acting? Why film? Why does it occupy such an important role in your life?

Why be yourself when you can be a dazzling array of characters?

Why be yourself when you can be a dazzling array of characters?

Something which ran through all of Tucci’s answers, regardless of which topics they addressed, was honesty in acting. ‘Audiences know if you’re not being truthful’, he admitted candidly, and this came across in his description of why acting is so important to him. Talking of his childhood, he addressed that he ‘always felt more comfortable on the stage than I did in real life’. This seemingly shy perception of himself as a child was fascinating, juxtaposed with the man leaning composed, relaxed and magnetic on the chair in front of the chamber.

A key area of discussion which Tucci was consistently eager to elaborate on was playing uncomfortable roles. Having played a paedophillic serial kiler in ‘The Lovely Bones’, and architect of the Final Solution Adolf Eichmann, Tucci has without doubt taken on some emotionally and spiritually challenging roles.

His role in the lovely bones was clearly a harrowing experience

His role in the lovely bones was clearly a harrowing experience

Part of the allure of these for him was the discomfort of the role. He argued that it ‘allows you to go and explore places of psyche that you maybe wouldnt want to’, but at the same time gave him ‘a greater understanding of the human condition.’

This was a particularly fascinating point which Tucci discussed in great detail.  In talking about the role of Eichmann, he raised the difficulties he faced in ‘feeling’ anything in the role, before realising that was exactly what he was meant to be doing. The Nazis, he argued, were so completely detached from the exterminations, and thus he felt completely detached from the character he was portraying.

Again, the issue of truthfulness came out when discussing these complicated roles: he argued that the hardest thing portraying Eichmann was to ‘find a grain of humanity’ which he could use to ‘make the person as real and human as possible’. This, for Tucci when studying Eichmann in depth, was the fact that he had a deep love for his children.

On a more lighthearted note, Tucci gushed about his ‘Devil Wears Prada’ co-star and worldwide treasure, Meryl Streep. ‘Is there a best thing in any art form? No’ he said, before adding discreetly ‘but if there were, it would be her!’

Suave and sophisticated, Tucci commandeered the Chamber with ease

Suave and sophisticated, Tucci commandeered the Chamber with ease

Talking to The Tab about his future, he addressed a desire to focus more on directing as opposed to acting. That said, Tucci admitted the difficulty in this, saying ‘I am not interested in making big Hollywood movies at all.’ Instead, his heart lies with smaller independent films over which he as director can have complete autonomy. Yet at the same time he acknowledged that such a future would not always be possible. Despite his love for small movies, he admitted that they ‘end up costing me money because they dont earn money when I make them’. Although directing is an ultimate aim, he must dip in and out of acting to make money to fund his directing desires.

Tucci was warm and welcoming, eager to pose for photographs with the press . Credit: Qiuying Lai

Tucci was warm and welcoming, eager to pose for photographs with the press

When asked about any roles he would avoid in the future, Tucci again mentioned how he would not play a character like that in ‘The Lovely Bones’ again. It was clear from his tone that it had a significant impact on him as a person, describing the research for the job as ‘incredibly disturbing’. He also drew upon the issue of stereotyping in the Hollywood industry, remarking that earlier in his career he was simply type cast as a ‘Mafioso’ or ‘The Italian guy who was evil just because he was Italian’. On a more optimistic note, he did say that he thought the industry had moved on from such a stereotype with the development of much more interesting criminal characters that could be explored.

Tucci, it seems, has an incredibly nuanced understanding of the industry. His abilities from all three roles of actor, writer, and director provided him with a uniquely multifaceted view of the business, meaning he knows almost all there is to know about acting.