Tucci takes it in his stride

Ac­tor Stan­ley Tucci turns out to be a swell kind of guy.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living - By MUMTAJ BEGUM entertainment@thes­tar.com.my

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

Best Sup­port­ing

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.

Hand­out

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

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