Stanley Tucci is a true Renaissance man. He’s an actor, a writer, a director, a producer, a cookbook author, a viral cocktail connoisseur, and now, the host of his very own food show. Yes, the man who taught Anne Hathaway how to dress in The Devil Wears Prada is now going to teach audiences how to eat their way through Italy with his new CNN series, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. The series will follow Tucci as he goes on a food tour of Italy’s most famous cities. In other words, the actor is living out everyone’s dream job. And, based on these fun facts about his life, the Oscar nominee has earned it.
1. Stanley Tucci lived in Italy for a year as a child.
Stanley Tucci, who is a second generation Italian-American, was born and raised in New York, but he did spend time in Italy when he was young: His family lived in Florence while his father, an art teacher, took a year-long sabbatical. “It was there that I learned Italian and a great appreciation for the culture,” he told Cultural Weekly. “I am without question addicted to Italy and my Italian heritage is a huge part of who I am."
2. Stanley Tucci’s first on-camera job was in a Levi’s commercial.
In 1985, a twenty-something Tucci starred in a Levi’s commercial, wearing a pair of tight-fitting 501 jeans and a white tank top. The ad, which is still available online, goes viral every now and again. The actor made his movie debut that same year with a small role in Prizzi’s Honor.
3. Stanley Tucci is an esteemed stage performer.
Most people know Tucci as a prolific character actor on film, but he’s also a seasoned theater actor. He famously originated the role of Johnny when Terrence McNally's play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune made its Broadway debut in 2002 (in its off-Broadway incarnation, F. Murray Abraham played the part). Tucci was nominated for a Tony for the role and has continued doing stage work in the years since. In 2010, he directed the 2010 Broadway revival of Lend Me A Tenor, starring his longtime friend and collaborator Tony Shalhoub.
4. Stanley Tucci is a major foodie—and co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in one of the greatest food movies ever made.
Tucci has written and directed five films over the course of his career, but his first—1996's Big Night—might be his most personal. Tucci co-wrote (with Joseph Tropiano), co-directed (with Campbell Scott), and starred in Big Night, which allowed him to shine a spotlight on his Italian heritage and the role food plays in Italy's culture. The film follows two brothers—played by Tucci and Tony Shalhoub—as they desperately try to save their Italian restaurant.
While Tucci's love of cooking obviously inspired the film, his friend—and Big Night producer—Oliver Platt told Cigar Aficionado that Tucci was also inspired to create Big Night as a way to challenge the “gangster” Italian-American stereotype. “Big Night is absolutely a direct response to the stereotypical way Italian-Americans were being portrayed in the media and popular culture,” Platt said. “Stanley wanted to write a story about real people and their experiences in America. And he succeeded wildly.”
5. As a kid, Stanley Tucci was obsessed with Julia Child.
Reflecting on his role in Julie & Julia in a 2010 interview with NPR, Tucci revealed that he has been a lifelong fan of Julia Child. “I was kind of obsessed with Julia Child—I [have] been ever since I was a kid,” the actor said, adding that he would watch her show with his mother. “I remember watching her show when I was young and almost crying at the end of it because she was so passionate about what she did. She loved what she did so much.”
6. Stanley Tucci made Meryl Streep cook with him before shooting Julie & Julia.
When Meryl Streep called on Tucci to play Paul Child, Julia Child’s husband, in Julie & Julia (2009), Tucci’s response was to set up a cooking date. “You and I need to cook together,” he recalled telling Streep in an interview with The New York Times. “I don’t mean to be a nudge and I don’t mean to be Method-y, but we need to be in a kitchen together.” The two Oscar-nominated actors made blanquette de veau (a veal ragu) and tarte Tatin (a fruit tart) in Streep’s Manhattan apartment. Reflecting on their time in the kitchen, Streep told Cigar Aficionado that Tucci is "really bossy in the kitchen."
7. Stanley Tucci's first wife died of breast cancer.
Tucci has three adult children from his first marriage to Kate Spath-Tucci, who died of breast cancer in 2009. Tucci, who was married to Kate from 1995 until her death, has been open about the grieving process. In January 2021, Tucci spoke about his loss with CBS Sunday Morning, saying that: "You never stop grieving. It's still hard after 11 years. It's still hard. And it will always be hard. But you can't let it ... and she would never want any of us to ever wallow in that grief and let it take over our lives. She would never want that. She wasn't like that."
8. Stanley Tucci has written two cookbooks.
Most fans know that Tucci knows his way around a kitchen—and behind a bar—but it’s still surprising to learn that the actor has already authored not one, but two cookbooks. His first, The Tucci Cookbook, was released in 2012 and features old family recipes. His second, The Tucci Table: Cooking with Family and Friends, was released in 2014 and was co-authored by his wife, Felicity Blunt. The book combines both their Italian and British sensibilities.
9. Stanley Tucci is related to John Krasinski.
In 2012, Tucci married literary agent Felicity Blunt. Felicity is the sister of Emily Blunt, who not only starred alongside Tucci in her breakout film The Devil Wears Prada, but is married to The Office star John Krasinski, making Krasinski and Tucci brothers-in-law. In fact, Felicity and Tucci reportedly connected at Krasinski and Emily’s wedding in Italy.
While Blunt and Tucci live in London with their two children, Krasinski and Blunt are based in Los Angeles. But the couples were able to come together over the holidays in 2020; they even filmed a special holiday cocktail video together to prove it.
10. Stanley Tucci brings his cocktail set to work.
After his cocktail-making skills went viral in April 2020, Tucci's Captain America: The First Avenger co-star Chris Evans revealed that Tucci used to make him drinks on set. “On some (most) days after we finished filming on the first Captain America movie, Stanley would make us martinis in his trailer,” Evans tweeted.
Tucci later confirmed the story during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, admitting that he likes to bring his cocktail setup to work. "I have a portable cocktail set that I bring to set, and at the end of the day, if it’s an appropriate time, I make martinis for whoever would like to join me,” he said. “It’s nice. It’s civilized."
11. Stanley Tucci works out five times a week.
Tucci has been known to send the internet into a thirst spiral with his charm and physique—and he works hard for it. The actor, who works out four to five times a week, revealed in a 2017 interview that exercise helps keep him centered, while also allowing him to keep up with his culinary hobbies. “I like to do it because I like to eat, I like to have a martini, I like to have wine, I love going out to dinner, making dinner. So, in order to indulge in those things, you kind of have to offset it.”