STANLEY TUCCI. The Road to Perdition. June 26, 2002 (print)
  • Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Stanley Tucci on How We Relate to One Another

Golden Globe winner Stanley Tucci spoke with HFPA journalists about being a third-generation Italian American and his love for cooking, while promoting the 1996 movie Big Night that he wrote and co-directed.

“Big Night is a little bit of my life, not that there’s anyone in my family in the restaurant business, but the way people relate to one another is really autobiographical. I wrote the script with my cousin (Joseph Tropiano), and to us it was a metaphor for the way Americans perceive people of ethnicity, the main problem being prejudice and the tendency to categorize and simplify ethnicity. I wanted to show a different view of Italian Americans than we normally see in Hollywood movies, to tell the immigrant experience in a different way, without Mafiosi or gangsters, and to tell the story of the struggle between commerce and art, which is an important one.”

“I wanted to make an independent film that was almost like a European film in a way.Without a doubt I was inspired by the great Italian neorealists, certainly Roberto Rossellini. His daughter Isabella was a friend of my co-director Scott, so she joined in. I was also inspired by Italian American directors like Martine and Francis Ford Coppola“We have the tendency to generalize and to stereotype, so if you walk into an Italian restaurant what you expect to get are spaghetti and meatballs. There’s no subtlety, no complexity to anything. That’s because people are uninformed about different cultures and I find it offensive. A really important point that we wanted to make in the film is the homogenization that ethnic groups have a tendency to undergo when they come to America. That really began in the 1950s, when everything was easy and mass-produced, everyone was going to look the same and cook the same. So, what we were trying to say is that you have to cherish this heritage that is yours, but we have a tendency in this country to want to wipe away the past, which is terrible and we’re still doing it”.

“It was not my parents, but my grandparents who were born in Italy, both sides of the family are from Calabria, but I lived in Florence for a year when I was a kid of twelve and thirteen because my dad Stan, who is an art teacher, had a sabbatical and he studied at the Academia there. When I was older, I spent time making movies in Rome and in Naples, which was a great experience. Isabella Rossellini who is a friend of mine says that Naples is her favorite city.”

“My mother (Joan Tropiano) taught me how to cook, she’s a great cook, and Gianniapinn, the chef at Lei restaurant in New York, taught me a lot. My favorite dish is eggs, every time I get off a plane, I find that as soon as I get home, I cook myself a little frittata.”