Stanley Tucci first came to my attention courtesy of two roles on two 1980s TV series that did nothing to display the depth of his talent for comedy. Tucci's appearances as Karl Draconis on "Thirtysomething" and Rick Pinzolo on "Wiseguy" immediately cemented his reputation as an up and coming dramatic actor in the tradition of Pacino and DeNiro who was worth watching. It was only once he made the leap from the small screen to the big screen that Tucci got the chance to really shine as a comic actor and reveal his truly breathtaking versatility.
The Devil Wears Prada
"The Devil Wears Prada" is not a comedy per se, but the film contains enough humor along with the dramatic tension to qualify at least as a dramedy. The centerpiece of humor arrives in the person of Nigel, the designer played to cheeky perfection by Stanley Tucci. Tucci's talent for underplaying a role that could quite easily be turned into an over-the-top stereotype is put on full display here. Tucci even gets the chance to show off his gift for adding dramatic nuance when he briefly becomes a figure of tragedy when his expectations of promotion are publicly dashed.
Julie and Julia
The chemistry between Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep was so explicitly crackling with energy that it seemed a no-brainer to team them as the real life couple in "Julie and Julia." This movie is perhaps more accurately categorized as a comedy than "The Devil Wears Prada" but there is still something not quite right about terming Tucci's role as the husband of Julia Child a comedic one. Nevertheless, Tucci fully inhabits the role of a man who could not possibly have survived being married to such a larger than life figure without a great measure of good humor himself. The result is a carefully modulated comic portrayal that ranks among Tucci's best and among the most egregiously overlooked of his career.
"Big Night" is a small movie in comparison to the number of people who are familiar with Tucci's two Meryl Streep. "Big Night" is a much bigger movie to Tucci since he-wrote, co-directed and stars with his good friend Tony Shalhoub. Tucci and Shalhoub play brothers who own a restaurant and while TV's "Monk" gets the showier role, a second viewing is all you need to fully appreciate the sheer comic genius that Tucci seems to intuitively possess as an actor. "Big Night" does not give Tucci any opportunity to overwhelm you by reaching high for laughs. The laughs come regularly as a result of the many small but brilliant choices that an actor of the quality of Tucci is only capable of making.
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- Stanley Tucci