Tucci takes it in his stride
Actor Stanley Tucci turns out to be a swell kind of guy.
OK, let’s put this out there first. My brain has its own logic – well, things appear logical to me but hilarious to my colleagues.
I have a tendency not to memorise the full name of a person or a title (be it a book, song, TV series or film). So, when playing a game where you have to say out a name quickly, I tend to get just one of the words right.
This bad habit of mine never really bothered me. However, it did land me in quite a tough spot at an interview once.
As an entertainment journalist, I have been lucky enough to interview many international stars. And before each interview, thorough research is necessary so you are not caught off-guard at something they might say, and so you can ask follow-up questions.
In this particular instance, I had the opportunity to talk to actor Stanley Tucci, along with a Singaporean journalist. Usually, interviews with an international actor are conducted in a roundtable manner, where at least five or six journalists have to share 10-15 minutes with one talent. So, this was an amazing opportunity as there was only the both of us and I had prepared a lot of questions.
This was back in 2013, when Tucci was promoting the fantasy adventure movie Jack The Giant
Slayer in London.
It was a busy day for the actor; he had a whole day of interviews and my time-slot was one of the firsts.
When the other journalist and I entered the room, Tucci was having his breakfast – sitting on a sofa, and using a tiny coffeetable to park his plate. (The plate was filled with food, and Tucci ate impeccably throughout the interview. He is, after all, quite the foodie, and even has more than one cookbook to his name. )
He looked sharp that day, wearing a three-piece suit, and fit perfectly in the posh room at the five-star hotel. He shook our hands, and asked if it was OK that he ate during the interview. Sure, we said, and took our seats opposite him.
We started our questions, and I had wanted to ask Tucci about some of his past roles. In my opinion, the actor – who turns 57 in November – is one of the best character actors around. He just added so much more to the smaller roles he got in films like The Devil Wears Prada, The Hunger Games series, Road To Perdition, Maid In Manhattan and The Terminal. In the 2009 film The Lovely
Bones, directed by Peter Jackson, Tucci was unrecognisable as George Harvey, the man who murders his young neighbour.
He received an
Oscar nomination in the
Actor category for the film.
As I got to my question about this role, I referred to the film title. Only my (crazy) brain provided me with the title “Bag Of Bones” instead – which just happens to be a 1998 novel by Stephen King!
Not realising my mistake, I waited for Tucci’s reply. He looked perplexed for a moment and said, “Do you mean The Lovely Bones?”
OMG! I thought and quickly apologised. Luckily, he just chuckled out loud and reiterated: “Bag Of Bones!” which got all three of us laughing, dispelling any discomfort, before answering the question. “It was very hard to play that guy. That’s one guy I don’t want to meet again.”
My next question had to do with his role in The Hunger
Games, and his character, Caesar Flickerman. I asked him what he thought of Caesar Flickerman, ending the question with “Did I get that one right?”
“You did,” Tucci said to me. “Yeah. Caesar Flickerman was fun ...”
In the end, my line of questioning on his previous characters didn’t end up in the final article.
But I will always be grateful that my gaffe occurred with someone who was just an overall nice guy, with a sense of humour.
Although it was just 15 minutes long, Tucci came across as a genuinely affable guy who peppered his answers with jokes about his craft like this one: “How many actors does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer? Ten. One to actually do change it, and nine others sitting around saying, ‘I wouldn’t actually have done it like that.’’’
So thank you Stanley Tucci, for being a nice celebrity, and makone. ing our meet a memorable
From The Vault is a new fortnightly series that takes readers behind the scenes of memorable interviews and assignments our journalists have experienced.
The many faces of Tucci: As Caesar Flickaman in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and George Harvey in The Lovely Bones. —
Tucci, an all-round nice guy. — Reuters