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Stanley Tucci on His Toughest Role Yet

By Lauren Paige Kennedy
WebMD the Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Award-winning actor Stanley Tucci -- best known for his roles in Big Night, Kit Kittredge, and Julie & Julia -- will be appearing in The Lovely Bones this fall. But at the top of his career, Tucci experienced the devastating loss of his wife, Kate Tucci, to cancer. WebMD the Magazine asked him about his life in acting, the loss of Kate, and his thoughts on parenting, food, and staying healthy.

You'll soon be seen playing child murderer George Harvey in the film adaptation of the best-selling novel The Lovely Bones. As a father of three, was this a difficult character for you to try on?

It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I can't bear to watch anything where kids are getting hurt. I was up in the air about [accepting the role], but it's a beautiful story and I knew I was in good hands with [director] Peter Jackson, who was so respectful of the material. It was a challenge, and I like a challenge. I'm glad I did it.

Forget fiction and reel life, real life can be plenty dark (as Jaycee Dugard's recent news story underscores). How do you keep your kids safe, and how much do you tell them to instill a healthy sense of wariness, without living in fear?

A little fear is OK. It's important for children to understand what they should and should not be afraid of. I worked closely with an FBI guy [for The Lovely Bones], and he would tell his own kid: "See that guy over there?" He'd pick 'em out, and tell them exactly what to look for. But ultimately, we all have to keep a close eye on our children.

Let's focus on the joys of fatherhood now: Describe your proudest parenting moment.

My proudest moment is when I actually get the school lunches packed in time! I'd rather be a sous chef at Lutesse than pack those darn school lunches!

As your 50th birthday looms, would you swap places with a younger version of yourself?

I'd like to be 30 again, but not mentally or emotionally -- just physically.

Are you a health nut, in a health rut, or do you fall somewhere in between?

I believe in eating. I eat a lot. I drink wine. I love martinis. I eat meat and fish and pasta … I also exercise six days a week. I run on the treadmill, do sit-ups, and do yoga. So it's about striking a balance. You've got to earn good food and good drink.

You've won two Golden Globe Awards, an Emmy, plus many other accolades. Is acting therapeutic for you? And is the experience more cathartic on stage?

On stage it's just more tiring! It's a different energy. I guess acting used to be therapeutic for me when I was younger, but then you have kids, you gain maturity, you see the world as a more complex place, even as you simplify your own life … I don't require the same energy now to act; I guess I don't need to. But I just love it.

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