He’s one of the film industry’s most acclaimed and popular character actors, but just because he’s not a leading man doesn’t mean Stanley Tucci plays second fiddle. Guaranteed to improve every scene he’s in by at least 50 percent – or, in the case of the two Transformers films he’s done, 100 percent – the talented and versatile actor makes the most of his screen time.
Here are just a few of the times he’s stolen the spotlight from everyone else in a film or show...
For an insight into how he chooses roles, listen to the The Playlist's interview with Stanley Tucci:
From Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to Mean Girls, awful parents are as much a part of teen films as dorky best friends and era-defining soundtracks. But not only are Dill (Tucci) and Rosemary Penderghast (Patricia Clarkson) possibly film’s coolest ever mum and dad, they’re effortlessly responsible for some of the funniest moments of this modern classic of the genre.
The Hunger Games series
Caesar Flickerman isn’t exactly a shy, retiring sort of TV host, but even when he’s interviewing a girl whose dress literally goes up in flames, he still holds the attention of everyone in the room.
The Devil Wears Prada
In a film filled with passive-aggressive and straight out aggressive woman-on-woman hostility, Tucci’s art director character, Nigel, dishes out a firm but fair reality check to Anne Hathaway’s “Andy”.
Julie & Julia
No one was ever going to be able to completely steal the spotlight from Meryl Streep in full flight as legendary chef Julia Child. Rather than compete, Tucci gives a calm and measured portrayal of Julia’s husband, Paul, with his quieter approach proving just as attention-grabbing. See also: Burlesque, with its dual diva headliners, Cher and Christina Aguilera.
Feud: Bette and Joan
Speaking of acting powerhouses, this miniseries about Hollywood royalty Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) featured a standout – and Emmy-nominated performance – from Tucci as studio head Jack L Warner.
While everyone else is losing their s*** in this fictional account of the start of the Global Financial Crisis, Tucci’s former risk management head Eric Dale draws focus by remaining outwardly calm, while his face betrays the mental backflips happening on the inside.
In other hands, Frank Dixon might’ve been a two-dimensional bureaucratic foil for Tom Hanks’ traveller without a home Viktor. In Tucci’s hands, the customs director displays more complexity than his petty motivations probably warrant.
A Midsummer’s Night Dream
To be fair, the character of Puck is designed to be a scene-stealer. Unsurprisingly, Tucci embraced the role of the mischievous sprite in 1999’s all-star update of the Shakespeare comedy wholeheartedly.
The Lovely Bones
Tucci received his only Oscar nomination to date for his disturbing portrayal of serial killer George Harvey in the film adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel. A masterclass in conveying rage that bubbles just under the surface.
As the American detective working for London's Metropolitan Police, Tucci plays the only character who's "not running away from something" in this frigid noir crime thriller. DCI Eugene Morton is serious about his job investigating an unusual murder in the Arctic town, but that doesn't stop him dropping a wry observation or sarcastic comment to break the tension.
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