15 Minutes with Stanley Tucci

The actor talks to LAMag about his upcoming series Citadel, what it’s like to work with the Russo Brothers, and how TV got great again

Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci gained fame for critically acclaimed performances in The Devil Wears Prada, Big Night, Road to Perdition and more recently hosted the acclaimed cooking travelogue Searching for Italy. Next, the actor will star alongside Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Richard Madden in Prime Video’s big budget espionage thriller Citadel

The series, premiering April 28, follows the Citadel spy agency whose agents have had their memories wiped. As powerful syndicate rises up against them, they must recover their memories and fight back.

LA Magazine: This is such an exciting role, what was it like to be approached for this espionage thriller? 

Stanley Tucci: Yeah, I loved it. I’ve never been offered anything quite like this before. I thought the script was really interesting, the character was interesting, I wanted to work with Richard [Madden], I really admired him, and the Russo Brothers [Captain America and Avengers] were producing it so I thought, “Huh, that’s not so bad!”

Your character on Citadel, Bernard Orlick, is so unhinged yet seemingly in control. What was it like to play him?

You never quite knew where he was going to go, and I like that. He’s trying to put all these pieces together to achieve a certain result, and that result is overcoming [rival spy agency] Manticore but in order to do that there’s a lot of emotional stuff that everybody has to go through. 

What was it like to work with the Russo Brothers?

I didn’t have contact with them on Captain America but we did a movie after I did Citadel called The Electric State. But right away when we started filming this I was immediately comfortable with them, very easy to work with, incredibly efficient, very relaxed and very funny and had a clear vision. A lot of people don’t have that.

There was one scene in Citadel where you were talking to Priyanka [Chopra Jonas] through an earpiece about her gadgets, did you feel a bit like Q from James Bond for this role?

Yes, there’s a bit of Q there without question but he ends up also being a person in the field and also having an emotional connection to these people.

This series is filmed all over the world, how was that for you?

I didn’t shoot all over the world. I shot 40 minutes outside of London and then I shot in Atlanta. That was it. They went to many places, I did not [laughs]

You have such a varied filmography, what what was it specifically that you found attractive about Citadel?

Citadel I liked because you had all of these amazing people, you had Richard, you had Priyanka, you had the Russo Brothers and you had this really cool script and a really cool character. You’re doing something that’s never been done before on television. 

Citadel could easily have been a big-budget movie. Did you ever imagine that TV would reach these levels?

Oh, my God, It’s so exciting. It’s so different. It’s so much better. It’s so much more interesting as opposed to where it’s a 43-minute show on American commercial television. There’s the bad guy, there’s the good guys, and at the end of the 43 minutes they get the bad guy and that happens again next week. Some of those are really compelling, some of those are great and we want to watch them. I personally love Columbo, who doesn’t want to watch Columbo

But now, and this started a long time ago, with HBO, there can be four or six episodes and we’re going to watch this over a period of time. That’s really interesting because the amount of depth you can give a character, the amount of depth you can give to a script and a plot is so much greater than 43 minutes beginning, middle, and end, good guy and bad guy. There’s so much more nuance. 

I love the dynamic between your character and Lesley Manville’s character. She seems like such a nice person in real life but such a villain in Citadel.

She’s a really nice person and a great actress. We know how great she is and you can see how great she is because in this she’s not a nice person [laughs.]

You’re known as the king of Italian cuisine. Any LA restaurant recommendations?

Well, here’s the thing. I have not been in LA for six years. So I’m not the person to ask. I am going, however, to do some more press for Citadel so I’ll keep you posted!

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