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Berlin Q&A: Stanley Tucci, 'Final Portrait'

Actor and director Tucci talks Geoffrey Rush-starring Giacometti film, arthouse versus blockbuster roles, and his toughest performance.

With a career in front of the camera that has seen an Oscar nomination for The Lovely Bones and roles in Spotlight and The Hunger Games franchise, Stanley Tucci returns to directing after a decade-long absence with Final Portrait. The film, his fifth as a director, stars Geoffrey Rush as Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti and Armie Hammer as a US critic who becomes the artist’s subject. It receives its world premiere at the Berlinale today.

Why was this the right time and project to return to directing?

I wrote this film a long time ago but haven’t been able to get it done until now. I reconnected with my producer, Gail Egan at Potboiler Productions, and she loved it. She said she could get the money, and she did.

How did you attract such a strong cast?

It was always going to be Geoffrey Rush [as Giacometti]. Originally we cast Colin Firth in Armie Hammer’s role but that didn’t work out for scheduling reasons. Ultimately, there can be a big age difference between your choices but it’s all about the essence of the actor. Armie has a sweetness and openness to him. He was perfect.

Final Portrait

Final Portrait

You were Oscar-nominated for The Lovely Bones. How was it playing such a dark character?

It was a horrible experience. I don’t know that I would want to play a serial-killing child rapist again. As a parent, it’s your worst nightmare. You distance yourself from the role, but it can’t help but get inside of you — there’s still residue there.

You’ve also taken roles in blockbusters like Transformers. How do those experiences compare?

You’ll go broke if you’re doing only independent films, but it’s also fun to go make those really big movies. They help put food on the table and you can work with some great people. I don’t feel more comfortable in one than the other — they’re both equally uncomfortable.

Is it true that your most expensive possession is an artwork?

Probably. My dad was an artist and I grew up surrounded by art. I considered being an artist when I was younger but thought I’d make even less money than as an actor.

Are you planning to direct again soon?

Gail Egan and I are talking about a couple of projects. There’s a TV series I’d like to do that takes place in Berlin during the Second World War. It’s based on a book called City Of Women by David R Gillham, which tells the story of a woman living in Berlin as the Wall is starting to come down.

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