Tucci, Stanley 1960-

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TUCCI, Stanley 1960-

PERSONAL: Born November 11, 1960, in Peekskill (some sources say Katonah), NY; son of Stanley (a teacher) and Joan Tucci; married, April, 1995; wife's name Kate (a social worker); children: one son and one daughter (twins), two stepchildren. Education: Attended State University of New York at Purchase. Hobbies and other interests: Painting.

ADDRESSES: Office—First COID Press Productions, c/o Rysher Entertainment, 885 Second Ave., 30th Fl., New York, NY 10017. Agent—David Yocum, William Morris Agency, 151 South El Camino Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212-2775.

CAREER: Actor, director, and screenwriter. Director (with Campbell Scott), Big Night, Samuel Goldwyn, 1996; director and producer, The Imposters (also known as Ship of Fools), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1998; director and producer, Joe Gould's Secret, USA Films, 2000; executive producer, The Mudge Boy, 2003. Actor in films, including Prizzi's Honor, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1985; Who's That Girl, Warner Bros., 1987; Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear (also known as Ella), Orion, 1988; Slaves of New York, 1989; The Feud, 1989; Quick Change, 1990; Men of Respect, Central City, 1991; Billy Bathgate, Warner Bros., 1991; The Public Eye, Universal, 1992; Beethoven, Universal, 1992; Prelude to a Kiss, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1992; In the Soup, Cacous Films, 1992; Undercover Blues (also known as Cloak and Diaper), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1993; The Pelican Brief, Warner Bros., 1993; Somebody to Love, Initial/Lumiere, 1994; It Could Happen to You, Tristar, 1994; Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (also known as Mrs. Parker and the Round Table), Fine Line, 1994; A Modern Affair (also known as Mr #247), Nick of Time, 1995; Captive (also known as Sex and the Other Man) River One, 1995; Jury Duty, Tristar, 1995; Kiss of Death, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1995; The Day Trippers, Cine 360, 1996; (also director and screenwriter) Big Night, Samuel Goldwyn, 1996; Montana, 1997; Life during Wartime, 1997; The Eighteenth Angel, Rysher, 1997; Deconstructing Harry, Fine Line, 1997; A Life Less Ordinary, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1997; Winchell, HBO, 1998; (also director and producer) The Imposters (also known as Ship of Fools), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1998; and A Midsummer Night's Dream, Fox Searchlight, 1999; Joe Gould's Secret, USA Films, 2000; Sidewalks of New York, 2001, America's Sweethearts, 2001; Road to Perdition, 2002; Maid in Manhattan, 2002, Big Trouble, 2002, The Core, 2003, and Robots, 2005. Also appeared in The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, Fear, Anxiety, and Depression, and Blaze. Actor in television series, including Crime Story, NBC; Miami Vice, NBC; The Equalizer, CBS; The Street, syndicated; Wiseguy, CBS; Thirtysomething, ABC; Revealing Evidence, NBC; Equal Justice, ABC; Lifestories, NBC; Urban Anxiety, Fox; and Murder One, ABC. Actor on stage in Broadway productions, including Execution of Justice, The Iceman Cometh, Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Misanthrope, The Queen of the Rebels, and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; appeared in off-Broadway productions, including Scapin, Moon over Miami, Dalliance, Balm in Gilead, A Worker's Life, Merchant of Venice, and Romeo and Juliet.

MEMBER: National Italian American Foundation.

AWARDS, HONORS: Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and Q Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama Series, both 1996, both for role as Richard Cross on Murder One; Grand Special Prize nomination (with Campbell Scott), Deauville Film Festival Best First Film award (with Scott), New York Film Critics Circle Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (with Joseph Tropiano), Sundance Film Festival Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay (with Tropiano), Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best First Feature and Best Male Lead, National Board of Review Recognition of Excellence (with Scott), and Boston Society of Film Critics Best Screenplay and Best Director awards, all 1996, all for Big Night; The Imposters chosen as an official selection, Cannes Film Festival, 1998.

WRITINGS:

SCREENPLAYS

(With Joseph Tropiano) Big Night, Samuel Goldwyn, 1996.

The Imposters (also known as Ship of Fools), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1998.

(With Howard Rodman) Joe Gould's Secret, USA Films, 2000.

OTHER

(With Joan Tucci, Gianni Scappin, and Mimi Shanley Taft) Cucina and Famiglia: Two Italian Families Share Their Stories, Recipes, and Traditions, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.

SIDELIGHTS: Character actor Stanley Tucci grabbed the attention of the film industry when he cowrote, codirected, and costarred in the 1996 independent film Big Night. As Tucci explained in a New York Times Magazine article, he was tired of playing "the heavy—if not a goombah then some other kind of ethnic thug." So Tucci decided to write his own part—a leading part—and to direct his own film with the help of friends and relatives. His cousin, Joseph Tropiano, was his collaborator on the screenplay and actor Campbell Scott—Tucci's friend since high school—shared the job of directing the film. Describing Big Night in the New York Times Magazine, Eric Konigsberg wrote, "The film is whimsical, sentimental in places and deliberately paced. It is actor driven, in more ways than one: its appeal has as much to do with performance as with plot." As such, the four-million-dollar film was something of an anomaly but it nevertheless earned the admiration of many critics and movie-goers. The screenplay won Tucci and Tropiano several awards, including one from the Sundance Film Festival and another from the New York Film Critics Circle.

Big Night is the story of two brothers who immigrate to New Jersey from Italy during the 1950s. They open a small restaurant where the older brother, Primo, is the cook and the younger, Secundo, is the manager and host. The authentic, lovingly cooked food served by the restaurant goes unappreciated by its few customers and the brothers risk losing the business. A fellow Italian restaurateur—a man who has no culinary ethics but is hugely successful—promises to give the brothers a break by sending the famous singer Louis Prima to their restaurant for dinner, an event that is to be their "Big Night."

The autobiographical elements in Big Night were evident to Konigsberg when he visited with Tucci in his parents' home. His mother, Joan Tucci, threatened to defrost the last remaining timpano—a huge torte filled with a variety of ingredients—that she helped prepare for use in the film. Tucci so loves food that he became part owner of the Finch Tavern, in Westchester County, New York, near his home.

All of Tucci's various contributions to the film were commended. His performance as a director and as the character of Secundo—opposite Tony Shaloub's Primo—caused Terrence Rafferty to comment in the New Yorker that Tucci "has shaped the story into something that functions as both a demonstration and a vindication of the sort of subtle, finely detailed character acting that he and Tony Shaloub have practiced in relative obscurity throughout their careers." Regarding Tucci's screenwriting efforts, Konigsberg remarked in the New York Times Magazine, "Tucci's strength as a screenwriter is his understanding that articulateness is a luxury of the confident; that most conversation is spilled in awkward rhythms and incomplete sentences. . . . meaning in Big Night is to be found in the blank spaces between what is said." And on a more general note, John Simon, in the National Review, wrote, "Even when the film runs out of steam, it maintains density of feeling: where it fails as art, it remains recognizable as life. And when it is derivative—as in the ridiculous nocturnal fight on the beach, which is pure Fellini—it borrows from the best sources, effectively."

Following Big Night's release, Tucci began work on another film, a comedy titled The Imposters (originally titled Ship of Fools). This film starred actors from Tucci's personal group of friends, including Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Bracco, Isabella Rossellini, Lili Taylor, Oliver Platt, Campbell Scott, and Steven Buscemi. The film, set aboard a cruise ship in the 1930s, featured two unsuccessful actors on the run after publicly embarrassing a well-known actor. After accidentally stowing away on the same ship as the actor they had criticized, the duo's attempts to avoid him lead them into a variety of strange circumstances and secrets in which their acting abilities are ultimately tested. Although The Imposters met with less critical and public acclaim, a reviewer in the Wallflower Critical Guide called it an "ambitious and valiant effort to recreate . . . classic screwball comedy." Jeff Giles of Newsweek wrote that the film "begins wonderfully but drifts farther and farther out to sea." Even though the The Imposters was not a commercial or critical success, through it Tucci clearly demonstrates his skills as a gifted actor, one reviewer noted.

Tucci's 2000 film, Joe Gould's Secret, is based on the life of bohemian Joe Gould. Born to a wealthy Bostonian family and educated at Harvard University, Gould rejected what was expected of him and became essentially a vagrant, while recording what he called "An Oral History of the United States." Gould met Joseph Mitchell by chance at a New York diner and the two struck up a friendship. Eventually, the relationship faded and Mitchell wrote two articles about Gould for the New Yorker.

While, like The Imposters, Joe Gould's Secret did not have the same box-office success as Big Night, Tucci nonetheless earned praise for his role as director and actor. Stuart Klawans in the Nation wrote: "Sleek and long-faced, Tucci carries himself down to [the dive bars of New York] with a slightly stiff modesty and emerges with decorum." Reviewing the film for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan called Joe Gould's Secret "a marvel of subtlety and restraint set in a carefully re-created 1940s and '50s Manhattan."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Cosmopolitan, April, 1995, p. 44; October, 1996, p. 120.

Detroit News, September 23, 1996.

Entertainment Weekly, April 21, 1995, pp. 36, 40; September 15, 1995, p. 92; September 20, 1996, pp. 20, 49; October 18, 1996, p. 92; December 27, 1996, p. 42; March 7, 1997, p. 17; April 25, 1997, p. 80.

Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2001, p. F1.

Nation, March 31, 1997, p. 35; April 24, 2000, p. 42.

National Catholic Reporter, November 8, 1996, p. 13; April 25, 1997, p. 14.

National Review, June 12, 1995, p. 71; December 9, 1996, pp. 65-66; June 2, 1997, p. 56.

Newsweek, April 11, 1988, p. 89; February 12, 1996, p. 81; March 31, 1997, p. 75.

New York, April 24, 1995, p. 68; September 25, 1995, p. 116; October 28, 1996, p. 124; April 21, 1997, p. 52.

New Yorker, December 11, 1989, p. 136; July 30, 1990, p. 78; October 19, 1992, p. 109; May 1, 1995, p. 93; September 23, 1996, pp. 100-103; March 24, 1997, p. 85.

New York Times Magazine, September 8, 1996, pp. 60-62.

People Weekly, August 1, 1988, p. 19; April 24, 1995, p. 18; October 2, 1995, p. 18; January 22, 1996, p. 57; October 7, 1996, p. 19.

Rolling Stone, May 4, 1995, p. 73; October 3, 1996, p. 78.

Time, May 1, 1995, p. 84; September 23, 1996, p. 72.

USA Weekend, December 5-7, 1997.

Variety, September 14, 1992, p. 50; January 25, 1993, p. 140; September 20, 1993, p. 27; October 24, 1994, p. 69.

Vogue, June 6, 1990, p. 46; September, 1996, p. 362; October, 1996, p. 212; February, 1997, p. 140.

ONLINE

Fox Searchlight,http://www.foxsearchlight.com/ (1998).*

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