Let’s just get this out in the open right away: Ruby loves Stanley Tucci. Loves him. So . . . if you came to Starcasm today looking for a sober, objective look at the newest member of the Hunger Games cast, you might as well move along. This post will be completely nonobjective and could probably be considered nothing short of inebriated fawning. (Dare I say “Tucci feely?”)
If you scroll to the bottom of Tucci’s IMDB Filmography, the first credit listed is for Prizzi’s Honor. I don’t remember him in that, or in Kojak: The Price of Justice, or in Miami Vice. Sorry. I do, however, remember wanting to jump through the fourth wall when I saw Big Night and not let that virtuostic culinary triumph get cold, go uneaten, fade away. I would have found a way to keep that restaurant open. I know I would have . . . for Stanley.
I also remember not knowing what to do with myself every Monday night in 1996 as I watched the now rarely mentioned, but genuinely excellent television crime drama Murder One. I loved Stanley even then, but I loathed his character, Richard Cross. So many conflicting emotions! So confusing!
Tucci is an actor’s actor. He works. He takes big parts when they come (like when Kenneth Brannagh cast him as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and he rocks small parts when he takes them (like his reunion with Tony Shaloub during a guest appearance on Monk). He does ER. He does Disney voice overs. He channels his inner Willie Nelson, works with whomever calls, and makes everyone look better . . . every time.
When Tucci was cast as Paul Child in Julie and Julia, it was clear that Hollywood got it. Want an actor who can hold his head high as he plays a character no one has ever heard of, married to Julia Child, who is 6 inches taller than he is, and is played by Meryll Streep? Got to have Stanley. Name one other actor who could have pulled that off with Tucci’s grace and style and humor and charm. Go ahead. See? I told you. Don’t fight it. Stanley is the man.
Now, Stanley has been given the role of Caesar Flickerman in Lionsgate’s blockbuster production of Suzanne Collins runaway train of a young adult novel, The Hunger Games, and frankly, I’m relieved. For a little while, there were rumors that Tucci might be cast as President Snow, the horrifically villainous puppetmaster of Panem (the world of Collin’s post-apocalyptic novel). Stanley would have owned the part, of course; but, I would be right back where I was in 1996 when I couldn’t figure out how to love Stanley and hate his character simultaneously. It was hard enough to face The Lovely Bones and to know that Jack the Giant Killer is on its way. I needed a dose of good (albeit complicated) Tucci.
As Caesar Flickerman, Tucci will be able to play the superficial glitz of Flickerman on camera with the dangerous hints of sympathy that he feels for the Hunger Games‘ tributes sneaking out around the edges of his polished veneer. If the film follows the novel, and we’re told that it will, Tucci as Flickerman will have quite a bit of camera time, even though no one could call that part one of the leads. We’ll leave it to Stanley to find the right balance, to make the most of Flickerman and make everyone else look better in the process.
That’s just how Stanley rolls.