Though Stanley Tucci recently lost his wife Kate to cancer, he’s still managed to keep that gift for finding joy as an actor alive, making us laugh along with him and laughing at himself throughout this interview for his latest movie, the coming of age satire Easy A. The role is the extreme opposite of last year’s Oscar-nominated turn as a homicidal pedophile in The Lovely Bones. Up for discussion was how being a movie parent in Easy A measures up to that occasionally grueling task in real life and some of Tucci’s other recent roles, including Julie & Julia and the upcoming Captain America film.
Q: What’s the challenge of being a parent in a movie and keeping from being the too-cool, too-understanding dad who’s no use to a teenager in crisis?
STANLEY TUCCI: You don’t have to worry about preparing to play the role of a father when you have three children! I’ve also raised two stepchildren. So no, no preparation is necessary. I prepare all the time. It wasn’t that hard anyway, because Easy A is well-written. But I know what you’re saying, that you could really fall into that trap. The key thing was just to keep it truthful and, you know, to really show underneath all that stuff, all that joking and stuff, to show that you really care and that you really are looking out for and watching your daughter and making sure that she really is OK.
Q: Is part of that also not being the egotistical parent, the one that thinks they know everything, but getting involved?
ST: Right! Exactly. You know, that you’re there, but you have to let her do it. You have to let her make her own decisions. All the jokes my character makes, all that stuff is underneath. Then you see that, when it comes out.
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Q: The film also makes fun of parents who just can’t seem to shut up about airing graphic details of their sex lives to their kids. What are your own thoughts about that?
ST: The parents have great affection for one another, which they display openly in front of their children. That’s probably the healthiest thing that parents can do, because it allows children to understand what love is in their own lives. So for me as a parent, you have to talk to your kids like they’re adults from the time they’re babies instead of doing all that babying, like the way you hear people talk baby talk to their kids. It’s like, why are you talking to your kid like that?
Q: How come one minute you’re that creepy pedophile in The Lovely Bones, and then in Easy A you pull off playing such a fun dad?
ST: I like extremes I guess! But I will say that The Lovely Bones was the most difficult role that I’ve ever done as an actor.