Michael Tobin and Nathaniel Schooler were Joined by Stanley Tucci – A famous American actor, writer, producer and film director.
Nathaniel Schooler asked him a few questions and they had a great conversation:
What are the biggest struggles you have been through in your career?
How did you overcome your emotions when you were going through these struggles?
I heard about your Negroni drink – and my friend seemed to think you should have stirred and not shaken.
When you played “George Harvey” in The Lovely Bones (2009)] you said “I never wanted to play a serial killer. I don’t like to watch things about serial killers or kids getting hurt.”
Stanley Tucci: “I can’t stand that, really. But this was something beyond that. It was an exploration of loss and hope. And I’m glad that I chose to do it.”
Please find the full transcript below
Thankfully, Mike Tobin has managed to bring in Stanley Tucci. Right?
Is that how it’s pronounced? Yes, super. Super.
And I’m quite interested in what you do and what you have done because my sister actually is based over in Hollywood.
She lives there.
She’s been doing voiceovers, a bit of producing, and acting since she was a little kid.
And it’s tough, really, hats off to you to make some success from that. Success.
We were counting the other day in preparation for something else you’re doing with us.
Then we got to about 92 different films that you’ve made and gave up.
We said, why did you say quite a lot?
Let’s just say too many.
Let’s just say too many.
It’s a fantastic career. Fantastic.
Oh, it’s great.
No matter where you are, I mean, you’re still always struggling to get things that you’d like to get that aren’t coming your way or to get your own projects off the ground and all that stuff.
It’s always a bit of a struggle because it’s a very fickle business and it’s ever changing.
It’s changing so quickly now with streaming services.
It’s kind of wonderful.
That the way it’s changing to me, because there are so many more options out there, and a lot of the old models are being thrown out of the window.
And for instance, trying to get, let’s say, an independent movie made.
And I made a number of quite a few independent movies as an actor, and I’ve directed five of my own independent films.
It’s a real struggle.
It can take years and years and years and years, and then the movie will come out and it’ll be distributed in a handful of theaters, usually.
And then it disappears.
And it has a longer life.
Used to have a longer life on DVD, but now it ends up on Netflix or wherever it ends up.
And that’s great, but now you don’t have to do that route anymore.
And I’m sad to say it that I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be going to movie theaters.
I love going to movie theaters, but it’s more often than not that I watch a movie here.
And if you’re making a small independent movie and it’s made by one of these streaming services, apple, Netflix, whatever, HBO, whatever, you have this built.
You have a built in audience, and it’s kind of amazing.
So you’re able to get your product, your picture out there as never before.
And you don’t have to go through all that rigmarole of, oh, we didn’t open on the weekend.
Boom, you’re out of the theater.
In a way, it’s kind of lower risk, right?
Because once you’ve got the signature that you’re going to do the thing and it’s funded, then you don’t have to worry about kind of is it going to make the card?
When are they going to release it? Exactly?
And you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of sort of going from city to city, showing up at doing talks and all that sort of stuff, which is fine, but the amount of effort and time that it takes to promote a movie that already took a huge amount of time and effort to make it’s exhausting.
And then, like I said, it’ll show for a couple of weeks and see you later.
Yeah, I think the way things are changing now is actually pretty good.
Yeah, I mean, I did an interview the other day from my other show with a friend of mine, he’s EVP for a movie production company.
It was very interesting talking about media and the new streaming and all that kind of stuff.
It’s very interesting.
But like, the journey that you guys go on as actors is very similar to the entrepreneurial journey of almost banging your head on a wall for years to try and make something work and then eventually you change a little bit and you find some success. Right?
So I know Mike said I haven’t got any questions, but I do like to have a you know, I like to have a few, right?
Because this show is all about breaking through struggles in life and helping the listeners to maybe take away some insights. Right?
So what do you think the biggest struggles you’ve been through are in your career?
I think the hardest thing originally, when I first started well, sometimes the biggest struggle is against yourself.
That’s the first that’s the first struggle.
And the struggle against yourself is often taking yourself too seriously.
And if you take yourself too seriously, you’re never going to be able to achieve the kind of ease necessary that comes with that will bring success and will also bring joy.
So once I learned not to take myself so seriously, things got easier to a certain extent.
But I think the primary sort of external obstacle was typecasting and being battalion descent.
So I started in this business we call show in 1982, right out of college.
And I look Italian.
I am Italian.
And at that time, Italians were really portrayed only as mafiosi.
So inevitably, I played the bad guy.
You always were cast as the mafioso or the villain or the whatever, or the punk and the thing.
And it wasn’t really until I got and then you do that first to a certain extent for a while.
Or even if you were playing like a cop, you became the bad cop.
Because Italians were always viewed as innately evil. Right?
You could have it.
You could say this person from this ethnicity, the reason they’re like this is because they were poor or because their father beat them, or because of blah, blah, blah.
But you didn’t need an excuse for reasons.
They were just bad.
It’s not just Italians, though.
I reckon you probably could associate Germans, Russians, there’s a lot of them German.
You must do bad.
Well, it goes through phases as we go through things politically, that sort of changes, doesn’t it?
Like, all of a sudden, it was like everybody who was Russian was bad. Yeah.
And then everybody who’s from the Middle East bad.
And now they’re trying to find different ways.
They always have the sort of English daddy. English daddy?
But that’s just been around for centuries.
I think Colin Firth screws that one up because sometimes he acts like a baddie because he’s not very humorous and he’s like but then he’s always the good guy in real life.
That’s the primary obstacle for me.
And it’s really just a matter of getting roles that are going to allow you to show the variety that you have as an actor and then being really tough on yourself in a way, and saying, no, I’m not going to take that role.
I’d rather go get a job in a restaurant, or something like that.
But really, the thing is, being able to show the diversity and being able to be funny makes a big difference.
To be able to go back and forth between being funny and something that’s dramatic or whatever, that starts to open people’s minds.
Have you sort of regretted turning down a part for those reasons, for saying, like, that’s too sort of stereotypical of me happening? Never.
There’s no redeeming qualities there. Right?
You might have made some money or something that’s not worth it.
It’s very similar to business, though, isn’t it, Mike?
I don’t know.
There’s a few deals I wish I’d have done that I hadn’t done.
Zoom Shares would have been one of them. Yeah.
Especially, you know what they did to me, though, the other day?
They gave me, like, a live streaming. Yeah.
So I was like, wow, they’ve given me live streaming for free.
So then I started Livestreaming on Facebook and it lasted like, four minutes and I was like, that’s so good, I’ve got to do it again.
And I kept livestreaming, right?
And then I upgraded, like, I mean, who wouldn’t, right?
Then they get the money out of you.
It’s another 40 quid a month. Oh, really?
Yeah, but worth every penny.
How much fun is it to just push live on YouTube and talk about something really interesting?
I never want to do that.
I’m so afraid of what will come out of my mouth.
Do you do much theatre work?
I don’t believe you.
You do much theater work, then?
I haven’t done I directed a play on Broadway about eight years ago.
Eight, nine years ago, and I was doing plays, but I haven’t done play now for 15 years because I had kids and you have this.
Everybody thinks, well, you do the play, you do a play, you work a few hours a night, that’s it.
And it’s like, no, it’s the complete opposite.
It’s the most tiring thing somebody can do.
And people don’t realize how sort of labor intensive it is you’re doing this heightened thing for 3 hours a night, whatever it is.
But you don’t just walk in there and you sort of mentally start preparing, even though you don’t know you are preparing at like 400 in the afternoon.
And then by the time you do the play, you eat after the play, you go to bed, or at 01:00 in the morning, or whatever it is, and you have to sleep.
Like, you have to get your sleep because you’re doing eight performances a week.
So you’ll have your weekend.
You don’t have a weekend, at least the way it’s structured in New York.
So you do your Friday night show, Saturday matinee.
Saturday night show, sunday matinee.
You don’t see your family.
You don’t put your kids to bed.
You can’t wake up with them in the morning, you don’t take them to school.
And it’s just like, once I had a family, I was like, I’m not.
And I’ve talked to other actors about this.
You know Emma Thompson?
She’s like, oh, God, I can’t stand it.
Let’s do it again.
My friend Meryl Streep didn’t do a play for she goes, I’m doing a play for 20 years because of your kids.
Because you can’t do it.
I love doing it.
I love doing it.
But it’s still to this day, there are times when it’s like 730, which is half hour in New York, right? Half hour.
Your shows at eight, they call half hour.
So here usually your shows are about 730.
Yeah, around 730.
I sometimes get this slight anxiety because I think I have to go on stage, and then I realize I don’t have to.
I could just oh, yeah, I’ve heard about you.
He’s been drinking, right?
My friend Adam I interviewed Adam yesterday, actually, because he’s furloughed at the moment.
Big shout to Adam when he listens to this, but he said he’s noticed that you were drinking a Negroni. Yeah.
And it’s campari gin, soda and something else. Right?
I mean, something soda. Okay. Sweet removed. Yeah.
Big problem, though.
He seemed to think that you should have stirred it and not shaken it.
And there was an uproar on Instagram, apparently, about this. Yes.
You’re basically, because of the slight tingle in the stomach, you’re figuring that that’s because of the dodgy Negroni, not because of his. No.
See, I happen to like mine negronis up rather than on the rocks.
So traditionally you make it on the rocks and you give it a sturdy keep it on the rocks. Okay.
I thought I started experimenting with just doing it up just to see what it looked like in a coup.
And it was really cool looking.
And you put that slice of orange, and it’s really beautiful, like the red and the orange, and that sounds good to me.
The flavors come together more.
Okay, I’m sorry to insult him, but I was drinking.
It not him.
There’s no way I’m going to argue with you about the Cocktails because I’ve been checking out a few stories.
And, yes, you know your stuff on that one.
So I’ll leave that for Selena to.
Talk to you about.
How long you been doing this podcast?
Well, this is my new one, but I’ve been podcasting nearly five years now.
Oh, my God. Yeah.
And Mike was on my first show back then, and unfortunately, me and my business partner, he went one way and I went the other, and all the content, basically he said, I moved web host, and it all disappeared and blah, blah, blah.
So I just took Mike’s episode.
I said, Look, Mike, sorry about this, but I’m going to put this on a new show.
And I put it on a new show.
And then I wasn’t really happy with the brand, so then I created another brand, which is better, which is more of business technology kind of show.
But this one is called Positive Personal Power.
What were you doing before you did podcast?
Social media marketing.
But before that I was in the booze industry.
In the wine industry? Yeah.
Good person to know, really. Thank you.
Now we’ve got to stand interviewing you now. I know.
I was thinking, Hold on, this is all wrong.
I like asking questions.
I do have more questions, though. Stan.
Why don’t you go in the map?
Give me some.
I’ve got one. Right.
So when you play George Harvey in The Lovely Bones, right, you said, I never wanted to play a serial killer.
I don’t like to watch things about serial killers or kids getting hurt.
I can’t stand that, really.
But this was something beyond that.
It was an exploration of loss and hope, and I’m glad that I chose to do it.
So can you expand on that?
Because I read that earlier and I was like, that’s interesting.
Well, because the movie wasn’t I didn’t feel that there was nothing gratuitous in the movie.
I didn’t think, at least in the script, I thought it was a really it’s a beautiful book and it was a beautifully written script.
And it is about how to deal with loss and sort of through magical realism, but sort of through a fantastical way, in a way.
But there’s some hard reality, too, in it.
In the film.
I found it very difficult to watch.
Yeah, I can’t watch it because.
The narrative from the grave is something that’s kind of a very unusual way of telling a story.
I don’t know if it’s been done before, but I haven’t experienced it.
And it was a very difficult thing because you know the inevitability of it.
But it’s really hard to go through.
That process, especially with a kid.
She was absolutely but that kid who now is a woman, she was just an incredible actress.
So I think that’s a huge part of why that movie works.
You were nominated for an Oscar in that one. Yeah.
You played your I couldn’t wait till that was a hard one.
That was the hardest role I’ve ever played.
I wouldn’t do that again.
It’s too disturbing.
No, it is important.
Did you have to psych yourself up to get through those days?
Oh, my God. Yeah.
I dreaded going to work every day.
And it went on for months and months and months.
In a couple of months in Pennsylvania, I’m shooting.
And then we took a big break, like a six week break over Christmas.
And then we went to New Zealand for five weeks.
So you sort of have to keep it in there the whole time a little bit.
Where did you go in New Zealand then?
We were in Wellington, which is where Peter Jackson, who directed it, that’s where he lives and has his studios and stuff.
So we were there in Wellington, which I really liked.
And I was very lucky that my family came with me.
My late wife and the kids were little at the time and my father in law came.
And that made it really if you’re with your family, it just makes it a little bit easier. No.
Did you feel that kind of I don’t call it depression, but that kind of weight transferred beyond the set of home into your real world, into your kind of personal life at the time.
At first, yeah.
And then I was able to just sort of cut it off.
So what really helped was because I sort of tried to I made physical changes.
I wore, like, a kind of little fat suit almost just to give myself a bit of a belly.
And then teeth made and a mustache, a wig put on.
We changed put makeup on it to make my skin lighter.
Put contact lenses in.
So you’re transforming yourself so that once you put that stuff on and you look in the mirror, you’re not looking at you, you’re talking differently.
But as soon as they said the day was over, they called rep.
That stuff came off so fast, and I couldn’t wait to get it off.
And I’d have a martini with the head makeup artist Peter King, who’s an incredible guy.
And everything would go away.
And then it starts.
Of course, the next day starts all over again.
I wonder if the kids are working from home at the moment, can’t go into school.
And I wonder whether the concept is similar with the teachers are saying to the kids in this kind of list of things they had to do when they first started lockdown was in the morning, get up at the same time, go for your shower, get your breakfast, get dressed, don’t bounce around in pajamas.
So it’s almost like the whole act of presenting yourself in a certain way allows you to be that person that you need to be at that time.
And it’s almost a similar aspect of kind of you’re almost like dressing into a shape that allows you to be and then taking it all off.
We put on our clothes, we go out into the world, we have a persona, and then when we come home, people will instantly just change their shoes on the old classic jacket and a pipe, and you’re a different person.
You’ve been quite used to wearing wigs and stuff, right?
But I’m surprised they even bothered to put wigs on you when you voted, like, 8th sexiest bald man or something.
What was that?
There was a big thing, though.
Adam said that these women were like, talking about your biceps on Instagram the other day. I know. It’s weird.
It became that cocktail video.
There were lots of sexual comments I did not expect at all.
Well, I think they’re all obviously justified.
You’ve got a certain following there.
If you wanted to get into something.
Like a sex worker for alcoholics or something.
You go down your route.
Give us another.
I’ve got one.
How did you overcome your emotions when you’re going through these struggles?
Obviously, martinis probably helped.
Yeah, but apart from martinis, how do you overcome these struggles that you have in your life for the past however many years?
I’m not sure that there’s relevant specific ones he’s referring to, but generally, just in general?
Yeah, in general, you have to rely on the people that you love.
And that’s the key thing.
A friend of mine is starting this big mental health initiative in America, kenneth Cold.
You know, he is the designer and he’s very altruistic, and he was the head of Amphar for quite a while, and he started this thing called the Mental Health Coalition now to help destigmatize mental health and to encourage people to talk to others about their anxiety or what might be mental illness or whatever.
And I think that for me, that’s the key thing with anything, because after my first wife passed away, that was very hard to deal with.
And the people who helped me were my friends and my family.
You just got to talk about it.
And oddly enough, they were more helpful than any therapist, or in a strange way, they were more helpful.
Why do you think that is?
That people because you often find that people that are close to you, people say that it’s not as easy to talk to them as it is to a sort of a stranger.
As a therapist, I don’t know.
I really think it depends on the situation.
I found that when I did talk to a therapist about my wife dying, I found that there was just a lot of generalities that you could read in a book the stages of grief and go, yeah, I know that.
You sort of know it.
But to talk personally about somebody who knew her, who knows you for years and years in that case, it was really important.
In other cases, no.
It’s good to talk to somebody professionally, I think.
I guess probably it’s good to talk to somebody generally, and if you don’t have that support structure around your family and great, then obviously the professionals are there as well.
But if you can’t talk, that’s the main thing. It is.
And I also think that, like we were talking about before, a kind of structure.
Like, you go in, you put the makeup on, you do the thing, you become the thing that comes off, and you have your separate.
I think the structure is absolutely crucial.
It’s like people who raise kids and they think, well, I don’t want to say no to them.
And you’re like, well, that’s stupid. That’s stupid.
Why would you not say no?
My parents, my parents, the first word out of their mouths was no.
What’s the question?
Hey, mom, can I know?
But I think that structure is super.
Creating a structure for yourself and maintaining a structure for yourself all the time is important, but especially during times of grief, times of difficulty, exercise is, without question, the single most important thing you can do for yourself, by yourself, that is absolutely crucial on so many levels.
And then just doing if you’re by yourself and you’re suffering, I really do believe cooking is a great way to.
Well, you’ll be answering a few more questions about that a little bit. Yeah, later.
But the one thing in your film, The Big Night, which you directed, produced, you wrote as well.
One thing we managed to wash it the other night, and one thing that I really the warmth of the family between the two brothers came through and everything.
They were almost like twins in the way that they operated.
You could see the dance that they did around a table at one point, where they were doing things for the same table around.
But the thing at the end of it, where you made you made a scrambled egg, and the theme is basically you made the scramble, scrambled eggs, omelet, or whatever for the assistant in the kitchen.
And what was an apparent straightaway for many people.
I guess it got me straight away.
Was you left a little bit in the pan.
And what transpired was you knew that the brother was going to come in and have that third piece.
So you’re always making three or he.
Hopes that the brother is going to.
Or he hopes it yeah.
But the whole thing was very the connection between the brothers is very strong.
It was very family orientated. Yeah.
To me, yeah.
I mean, that’s really important.
And I think that what we tried to show in that, too, is that the brothers never touch each other except.
At the end of the last scene, where they put their arm each other.
Which is the complete opposite of what you see in most Italian movies about Italians. Italians, yes.
They can be emotional, they can be sort of physical, but I think people would be very surprised how in some ways taciturn and reserved many Italians many Italians are.
You can be passionate about something, but you might not necessarily like, my parents are really never physically affectionate with me.
I knew that they loved me, but only in a time of maybe crisis or something.
But nobody was hugging each other all the time.
I was the one who would be hugging more than.
Well, I think that’s not a bad place to end.
I think, on this particular one, as a hug from Stanley.
This is really fun. Thank you.
It’s just a free meander through some thoughts, and hopefully people can take some positives out of it, then it’ll be helpful. Great.
Well, thank you.
It’s nice to meet you, man. Thank you.
And how do we find Mrs Tobin’s show?
Because you’re going to be on that as well. Right.
She’s at Poshnoshgal on Instagram.
That’s G-A-L at the end. Poshnoshgal.
And she’s been interviewing a bunch of chefs lately.
She did Sean Ranking yesterday.
You’re in good company, stand.
I know that.
Didn’t she do Michelle Roo or something?
She did Michelle Roo.
She’s done lots of different people.
And yes, she’s building out and this is only since the lockdown, because she’s been wanting to sort of help the industry generally, because they’re having a really tough time and I don’t know when they’re going to come out of it, because when life gets back to more, for many of us, I think they’re still going to be struggling. I know.
But anyway, let’s hope it sort of look on the positive sides and let’s hope this helps them, whether they’re sort of remote delivering now, which they are, or doing lots and lots of Instagram videos like you’re doing as well. Fingers crossed.
Well, thanks for listening, everyone.