Hot Gen-Z Icon Stanley Tucci
He’s all over TikTok, muscles bulging out of a snug polo shirt, pouring a cocktail into a coupe in slow motion as George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” plays. Some of the clips, hashtagged #mancrushmonday or #celebritycrush, show him strolling through the streets of Italy, effortlessly elegant in pressed cream pants and black horn-rimmed glasses, or sensuously lifting a forkful of carbonara into his mouth. Welcome to TucciTok, a not-small segment of the social media app that is unabashedly hot for veteran character actor Stanley Tucci.
“I don’t know,” Tucci says, laughing, from his home in London, when asked to explain his Gen-Z appeal. “I’m old enough to be everybody’s father or grandfather.”
Tucci has played a cobalt-haired propagandist in The Hunger Games and an effete right-hand man in The Devil Wears Prada. He was nominated for an Oscar for playing a child murderer in The Lovely Bones. But as host of the CNN travel and cooking series Searching for Italy, he’s gained arguably the most attention of his career. Tucci attributes its popularity partly to the fact that it premiered during lockdown — “People can travel vicariously through the show” — but his urbanity and wit are infectious. It helps that he has the forearms of an ancient Roman statue.
The love fest kicked off with the 2018 SNL sketch “Tucci Gang,” a parody of Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” that paid homage to the actor’s versatility. (“My kids had to explain to me what it was based on,” Tucci says. “I was not aware of Lil Pump.”) But it wasn’t until lockdown, when Tucci posted a video to Instagram of himself making a Negroni, that the internet thirst began in earnest. His oddly soothing follow-up posts, from how to make an Old-Fashioned to clam-pasta cooking GIFs, more than tripled his followers to 732,000 and counting. And the fans are not shy. “Stanley Tucci is very hot, and if you disagree you have no taste,” declares one. “Can’t explain it, but I want him to crumple me like tinfoil,” writes another. “Some of the comments were so filthy, I couldn’t believe it,” Tucci marvels.
Though he finds the adulation mystifying, Tucci admits he is flattered to be considered an online sex symbol: “I just turned 60, so anything helps.” And who knows, maybe it will spur zoomers to pick up his culinary memoir Taste: My Life Through Food, due out in October. In the meantime, Tucci is shooting a series for Amazon, Citadel, and prepping for a second season of Searching for Italy. Initially, Tucci had been hesitant to take on a hosting gig. Acting, he says, is “just playing, [and] it’s no holds barred,” but “it isn’t like that when you’re just yourself in front of a camera.” But the response to the show, and his cocktail-making videos, has taught him something: “All this time, who knew? All I had to do was be myself.”