Stanley Tucci can play anything from a gay designer in The Devil Wear Prada to a child killer in The Lovely Bones, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In his new movie Easy A, he and Patricia Clarkson portray the hip and amusing parents of Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone), who makes up a little white lie about a sexual escapade she never had, and through the internet becomes her school’s scandal queen.
You and Patricia were the coolest parents in this.
I know, How come I can’t really be like that dad? I know they are ideal parents, but there’s a script, that’s the trouble.
What attracted you to this movie? It’s not the type of film you usually do.
I’m not a teen movie person, even when I was a teen. But this was just so smart and it was an easy choice for me to do.
Did you and Patricia get to rehearse a lot on this?
No, but Patty Clarkson and I are best friends so that made it really easy. When they said they were offering it to both of us, I called her up and said, ‘You have to do this movie. We’ll have a great time.’
My wife died a year and a half ago, and I have three little kids, so I have to be home. Easy A was the first job I had done since she died, and I hadn’t worked for quite awhile. I asked them if they could just make it a short shoot, and they made it three days consecutively and the fact that I was doing it with Patty made me feel good, because she and my wife were great friends. So I felt comfortable.
Can you talk about working with Emma Stone?
She’s incredible. She reminded me when I first met her of Emily Blunt, because she’s so self-assured and mature. When she acts it’s effortless, like she’s been doing it for longer than she’s been alive. I don’t understand how that happens with somebody who is 21 years old. She is just so relaxed and natural in front of the camera. There’s also a technique there, it’s pretty amazing.
You seem to effortlessly go from comedy to drama, and a lot of actors don’t, is that a push on your part to make sure you’re not always doing the same thing, or are you just pitched a lot of different genres?
I get presented with everything, I always have and I’m comfortable doing both. A steady diet of either one wouldn’t make me very happy.
You were so good in The Lovely Bones, would you ever go back to that dark killer place?
Never, it was horrible. I hated it. I didn’t want to be there. Peter Jackson was great, but I never want to be in that ‘place’ again.
You’re considered an actor’s actor, do you find when you walk on a set other actors are scrutinizing everything you do, do you ever feel that pressure to perform?
No. I have noticed recently that I’m no longer the youngest person on the set. I was in denial for a while. And yes, it is a little different now when people go, ‘Mr Tucci.’ I don’t really feel the pressure, I just do it the way I’ve always done it; which is I always try to be truthful. Once you start doing it, you forget everything.
I don’t put as much pressure on myself now. As you do this more and more you realize where the energy really has to go and you know how to reserve your energy and your focus for when that camera gets turned on. You work on it at home, you memorize it, and you go in and when they say, ‘Do it,’ you do it. And when they turn off the camera, you turn it off and you go and have a martini. The Lovely Bones was a 12-martini job!
How far along are you on Captain America?
They’ve been shooting now for a couple of months, I was there for three weeks and I go back in October.
What’s your character in it?
Dr Erskine, he’s described as ‘the elderly German scientist.’ I was like, ‘Okay, thanks.’ What can you say? You’re really insulted, and then really happy and honored because they think you can do that. But then you think, ‘Do they really think I’m old?’ So I kept saying, ‘Well, you have to age me, right?’
What’s the biggest challenge doing that role?
First of all, you just want the accent to be good. In the end, that’s really all you care about. Because there’s nothing worse when [people grimace] when they hear the accent, and say, ‘That’s bad.’
I really loved the script and I loved the role, and once I started I was so happy that it worked out. These guys at Marvel [Comics] are just fantastic guys, they’re so nice; they give the directors control over the picture. It’s an incredible cast, so I actually can’t wait to go back.
I’m excited to do a big movie. I’ve never been in a movie that’s a comic book film; I’ve always wanted to do one.
Is there a lot of green screen that you have to react to?
No, in fact the opposite. There’s nothing going on, they put everything in later. And they’re not shooting in 3D, but it will be 3D later. It’s a tedious process, because every shot has to be shot without actors in it. It’s so confusing, because they’re doing these complicated effects with changing people’s shapes and bodies, and it’s so complicated you have to do [the scene] with the [actors], then you have to do it with the stand in, then you have do it with nobody there, and you’re like, ‘Now what? We’re only going to think about doing it?’ [he laughs] One shot takes about five hours.