Friday, April 11, 2008

Tucci talks of films and meets a new relative

Yes folks, the Sarasota Film Festival is the place where you can find long lost celebrity relatives.

Well, at least for one lucky gentleman.

Thursday, during the festival's "In Conversation with ... Stanley Tucci" at the Historic Asolo Theater, a man sitting in the front row interrupted moderator David D'arcy — a critic from Screen International — during his talk with Tucci on what attributes it takes to play some of the villainous roles the star has portrayed in the past.

The guy in the audience blurted out that good villains also need to be Italian. The audience laughed, which got the man talking even more to Tucci out of turn. After a couple of minutes, he threw a name out and asked if Tucci knew of the person.

"Yes," said Tucci, a Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning actor. "He's my uncle."

One of the guy's relatives (someone on his mother's side, if not his own mother — I couldn't make out what he said) married Tucci's uncle.

It was really nice to see Tucci — dressed in blue jeans, a light blue shirt and a dark blue dress jacket and loafers — speak to the fellow for a bit after the "In Conversation ..."

Contrary to popular belief, the event wasn't sold out, but most of the seats on the ground floor were filled. I went up on the second level and there were plenty of seats to chose from.

Tucci talked about film favorites such as the 1996 flick "Big Night," the ups and downs of independent movie-making and playing dark roles such as Hitler's officer Adolf Eichmann in the 2001 made-for-TV film "Conspiracy."

Tucci said there was a moment during filming "Conspiracy" when everything caught up with him — filming on site in Germany, surrounded by actors portraying the German army, plotting the extermination of millions of Jews.

"I thought I was going to vomit," he said. "I've never felt that way."

Being an actor, playing such a role called for him to repress his feelings just to get through the scene, he said.

"Because if you felt it, you couldn't have done it," he said.

Tucci also talked of his movie "Blind Date," which will be screened at the film festival 7 p.m. today and 2:45 p.m. Sunday at the Hollywood 20. He also discussed food films, such as his upcoming project "Julie and Julia" where he stars alongside Meryl Streep as Paul and Juila Childs. Sounds like the film is going to be a good one.

Of course, a fan in the audience had to ask him about his time working on 2006 hit film "The Devil Wears Prada" where he played the fashion guru Nigel.

He said he was chosen about three days before the filming began. The crew had auditioned "every other actor" in town for the role before finding him.

His wife said he played the gay-ish, fashion-loving character all too well, he added. — January Holmes

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