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Having had his start on the Broadway stage, award-winning actor Stanley Tucci managed to break free of being cast as stereotypical tough guys by displaying his talents in a wide array of performances. After playing a soldier in the Broadway play "The Queen and the Rebels" (1982), Tucci made his feature debut as a hood in John Huston's "Prizzi's Honor" (1985) and soon developed into a highly respected character actor in films like "Billy Bathgate" (1991), "The Pelican Brief" (1993) and the HBO biopic "Winchell" (1998). Alternating between independent films and big budget features, Tucci came within reach of stardom with his delightful performance as proud Italian chef Secondo Pilaggi in "Big Night" (1996), directed by Campbell Scott from a script by Tucci. He went on to portray a wide range of characters on television and in film, playing Puck in "William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999) and directing the indie "Joe Gould's Secret" (2001). He played Adolph Eichmann in "Conspiracy" (HBO, 2001), mobster Frank Nitti in "The Road to Perdition" (2002), and Stanley Kubrick in "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" (HBO, 2004). After stealing scenes from Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada"...
Having had his start on the Broadway stage, award-winning actor Stanley Tucci managed to break free of being cast as stereotypical tough guys by displaying his talents in a wide array of performances. After playing a soldier in the Broadway play "The Queen and the Rebels" (1982), Tucci made his feature debut as a hood in John Huston's "Prizzi's Honor" (1985) and soon developed into a highly respected character actor in films like "Billy Bathgate" (1991), "The Pelican Brief" (1993) and the HBO biopic "Winchell" (1998). Alternating between independent films and big budget features, Tucci came within reach of stardom with his delightful performance as proud Italian chef Secondo Pilaggi in "Big Night" (1996), directed by Campbell Scott from a script by Tucci. He went on to portray a wide range of characters on television and in film, playing Puck in "William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999) and directing the indie "Joe Gould's Secret" (2001). He played Adolph Eichmann in "Conspiracy" (HBO, 2001), mobster Frank Nitti in "The Road to Perdition" (2002), and Stanley Kubrick in "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" (HBO, 2004). After stealing scenes from Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006) and "Julie & Julia" (2009), he earned his first Oscar nomination for playing serial killer George Harvey in "The Lovely Bones" (2009). With turns in such varied movies as "Easy A" (2010), "Burlesque" (2010) and "Margin Call" (2011), it was easy to see why Tucci was considered one of cinema's finest character actors.
Born in Peekskill, NY on Nov. 11, 1965, Stanley Oliver Tucci, Jr. was the son of art teacher Stanley Tucci, Sr. and his wife, Joan, a secretary. A graduate of John Jay High School in New York, Tucci befriended Campbell Scott, the son of actors George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst. The two remained close into adulthood and eventually crossed professionally as well. After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in drama from SUNY-Purchase in 1982, Tucci worked on the stage, wracking up critical praise and impressive reviews for his performance in Ugo Betti's "The Queen and the Rebels," which allowed the young actor to get his equity card and health insurance. Within two years, Tucci moved to Los Angeles where he landed his first credit as an unnamed thug in "Prizzi's Honor." From there, it was just a quick jump to television.
One of Tucci's first major roles was in a recurring role as Mafioso Frank Mosca on "Miami Vice" (NBC, 1984-89). Coldly charismatic, Tucci repeated his success in five episodes as mobster Rick Pinzolo on "The Equalizer." Segueing into features, Tucci continued finding work, but once again as typically ethnic protagonists. In 1992, he was cast as Jennifer Beals' French ex-husband in "In the Soup" (1992), then played Lucky Luciano in Robert Benton's "Billy Bathgate" (1993), followed by a Middle Eastern assassin in "The Pelican Brief." In "Equal Justice" (ABC, 1989-1991), he was on the other side of the law as a police detective romancing one of the lawyers. Tucci cut a memorable figure as a murder suspect, the wealthy, powerful businessman and philandering husband Richard Cross, on the ABC drama "Murder One" (1995-97), earning him his first Emmy nomination in 1996. Tucci was perfectly cast by director Paul Mazursky for the titular role in "Winchell (HBO, 1998), a biography of tabloid reporter Walter Winchell, that gave the actor an opportunity to win his first Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.
Tired of being pigeonholed, Tucci and cousin Joseph Tropiano fashioned a screenplay about two immigrant brothers running a restaurant on the New Jersey shore in the 1950s. After several years of working on the script, he and friend Campbell Scott co-directed "Big Night," which was one of the high points of that year's Sundance Film Festival. A lyrical examination of sibling rivalry and the clash of Old World values with the American dream, "Big Night" was a visual feast and earned glowing reviews. Tucci essayed the role of the younger brother who wants to succeed in his adopted country at all costs and conflicts with his older sibling (Tony Shalhoub) who prefers to retain the customs of their homeland. Following "Big Night," Tucci went on to appear as Hope Davis' straying husband in Greg Mottola's "The Daytrippers," a dentist in Danny Boyle's uneven "A Life Less Ordinary," and a fictional version of Woody Allen in "Deconstructing Harry" (all 1997). On his own, he wrote and directed "The Imposters" (1998), a period comedy about mistaken identities set on a cruise ship in the 1930s. Miscast as Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999), Tucci bounced back as producer, director and star in "Joe Gould's Secret" (2000), the true-to-life telling of the friendship between New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell (Tucci) and self-proclaimed scholar of the streets, Joe Gould (Ian Holm).
After turns as a studio executive in "America's Sweethearts" and a cheating husband in "Sidewalks in New York" (both 2001), Tucci earned himself another Emmy nomination for his turn as Nazi Adolph Eichmann in "Conspiracy" (HBO, 2001). Tucci continued to demonstrate his versatility in 2002 by playing the menacing Chicago mob boss Frank Nitti in director Sam Mendes' "The Road to Perdition;" then as Ralph Fiennes' nervous campaign manager in the romantic comedy, "Maid in Manhattan." The actor's considerable talents were wasted in the disaster film misfire "The Core" (2003), but he found a far more suitable role working again opposite his "Perdition" lead Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg in "The Terminal" (2004). Tucci played an angry and exasperated airport official, who is desperate to rid his terminal of an immigrant (Hanks) forced to reside there because of a glitch in his passport paperwork.
Tucci appeared as an attorney who leads a secret life as a ballroom dancer in the Richard Gere-Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy "Shall We Dance?" (2004), an Americanized version of a popular feel-good Japanese movie from 1996, before portraying the visionary film director Stanley Kubrick in the HBO biopic, "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" (2004). Then in 2005, he provided the voice for Herb Copperbottom, the dishwasher father of genius inventor Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), in the sci-fi animated feature, "Robots." Tucci was then wasted as a cop watching two gang lords (Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley) in the not-so-hip crime thriller "Lucky Number Slevin" (2006).
In "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006), however, Tucci was upstaged only by an Oscar-nominated Meryl Streep, playing a gay fashion director - a role that he could have easily steered into stereotypical characterization, but was made fresh and three-dimensional instead. Also that year, Tucci reunited with his old friend and "Big Night" costar Tony Shalhoub for a memorable guest appearance in Shalhoub's smash hit series, "Monk" (USA, 2002-09). His performance as an actor intending to play a fictional version of the obsessive-compulsive detective, earned Tucci an Emmy nod for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Tucci was then set to play a neurosurgeon on Peter Ocko's medical drama, "3 LBS." (CBS, 2006-07), but the network pulled the plug after airing only three episodes. Back on the big screen, Tucci reverted to tough guy status in "The Hoax" (2007), playing a heavy for McGraw/Hill who, despite his skepticism, helps the company publish a fake biography of Howard Hughes written by a struggling author (Richard Gere).
After earning a guest-starring Emmy nod for his recurring role as a hospital chief on "ER" (1994-2009), Tucci joined an all-star ensemble cast for Barry Levinson's Hollywood satire, "What Just Happened?" (2008), which followed the trials and travails of a middle-aged producer (Robert De Niro) struggling to keep his life and career from falling apart. The following year, he played two widely divergent roles; one of which earned him considerable awards attention. First, he co-starred in "Julie & Julia" (2009), playing the caring and supportive husband of Julia Child (Meryl Streep). Doing a complete 180-degree turn, Tucci was cast as George Harvey, a serial killer who favors young girls, including one who watches over her family from heaven in "The Lovely Bones" (2009), directed by Peter Jackson. For his creepy, effective turn, Tucci received nominations at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. He returned to the stage to direct a revival of "Lend Me a Tenor" (2010), starring Anthony LaPaglia and Tony Shalhoub, before returning to the screen as a nightclub manager in the Christina Aguilera/Cher misfire "Burlesque" (2010) and the opened-minded father of an unpopular high school girl (Emma Stone) in the surprise hit "Easy A" (2010). He went on to a notable turn as a corporate risk manager who gets fired in "Margin Call" (2011), before playing Dr. Abraham Erskine in "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011). From there, he joined the A-list cast of "The Hunger Games" (2012), the highly anticipated adaptation of Suzanne Collins' novels about a dystopian future where adolescents are forced by an autocratic government to compete in televised battles to the death.
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"I wanted to finally get a decent part for myself. I mean, if I'd been cast in enough good roles, I don't think I would have gotten around to making ['Big Night']" --Stanley Tucci to Empire, June 1997.
"I've made a lot of compromises in my career, but I had to do it. I knew certain jobs I was taking for political reasons. If I waited around for all the great parts in all the great movies to come my way, I would never work, ever, and I don't want to live that way." --Tucci to Los Angeles Times, September 15, 1997.
"The upside [of being a character actor] is you get to play a variety of roles. I suppose the downside is, it's very difficult being ethnic, Italian. People want you to always play the Italian gangster, and that's a little frustrating after a while. If it's well-written, it's okay, but all too often it's not. And in Hollywood, ideas of what's romantic, and who's romantic, don't often include my type." --Tucci quoted in Daily News, September 15, 1993.
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