• February 9, 2023

Love, Loss In ‘Supernova’ Hits Home For Stanley Tucci : NPR

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I probably don’t need to remind you that this was a year of loss – loss of life, loss of employment, loss of certainty – that was shocking to many people. But what would you do if you lost yourself and you could see it coming – or you could see it in someone you love, the center of your life?

In the new film “Supernova” Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth play Tusker and Sam, a longtime couple who traverse the English countryside, visiting family, friends and places they have known over the years. At first glance, it seems to be another relaxing road trip, until it quickly becomes clear that Tusker suffers from dementia early on and the changes can no longer be ignored for both men.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “SUPERNOVA”)

STANLEY TUCCI: (as Tusker) I’m going to be a passenger. And I’m not a passenger. This thing takes me to a place that I don’t want to go. And nobody will be able to bring me back. No i can’t No, I can not do that.

COLIN FIRTH: (as Sam) And I knew something was up. If I’m being honest, I knew. Just me – you don’t spend all those years with someone without the …

TUCCI: (as a Tusker) Yes. I know.

MARTIN: It’s a lovable, intimate, and in many ways heartbreaking film that asks powerful questions about life, love, and loss. And Stanley Tucci is with us now from London to tell us more about it.

Stanley Tucci, I’m so glad to have you with us. Thank you for joining us.

TUCCI: Well, thank you very much for having me. Thank you very much.

MARTIN: This particular role has so much to offer. And you’ve done so many things. I mean, people will have seen you – you know, depending on what you like, people will have seen you in something – like “The Devil Wears Prada” or …

TUCCI: Right.

MARTIN: … “The Hunger Games” – I mean, so many different types of projects over the years. What attracted you to this special role?

TUCCI: Well, it was just so beautifully written. The script as a whole was great and every role was wonderful. You don’t often get a script that is so reserved and poetic. And you don’t often get a script that is really about something. And this, as you said, was a beautiful look into love and loss and from a very specific one – under very specific circumstances, which means that we have a same sex couple. And that is never mentioned.

And that was another reason I love the script – because it didn’t focus on her sexual preference or orientation. It was only two people who love each other. And in that way I think the film has a lot of ground under its feet, but also the way it deals with the disease of early onset dementia. And it’s never histrionic. It’s never melodramatic. It’s pretty dramatic at times. It’s just like that. And Harry is the kind of director – Harry McQueen, director and writer who knows who is – he’s an actor too, so he knows very well that silence is as important as words.

MARTIN: How did you prepare for it?

TUCCI: Well, Harry had given us, Colin and me, a lot of research. And so I could go through that, go through and just choose what I thought was appropriate. So – but for me it was mostly the documentaries, the footage of people dealing with the disease. And once you see that, it’s very hard to see because it’s heartbreaking.

And I have no history of it in my family. I’ve never met anyone who has it so it was pretty new to me. But it’s very, very difficult to see. And you can see how hard it is for the people who suffer from it, but also for the people who are – who love them and try to help them do it.

MARTIN: It’s true. It’s like this – you know what’s remarkable about the movie, when you get into it without knowing anything about it, you just think at first that you are having a fun road trip. And then the scene at the beginning, very early, where they’re in a diner, and Sam, played by Colin Firth, just looks at you so hard, you know, while you – you’re just kind of going about your business, you know , look at the map and so on. And he looks at you so sharply that you only have the feeling of what is happening here?

And just the silence between you two – it only speaks to people who have been together for so long. And I understand that you and Colin Firth are indeed friends. You’ve been friends for a while. I wonder – that must have played a role – I mean, I’m not an actor, so how should I know? – but it’s just – how comfortable you are with each other.

TUCCI: Oh yes, without a question. I mean, we’ve known each other for 20 years. And, you know, we were together through the greatest and most difficult times we both had. You know our children are kind. We saw them grow up. We have seen them go through difficult times. And all of this, of course, informs your friendship, deepens your friendship. But it can’t help but inform that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing creative together.

MARTIN: I just want to play this short clip of that scene between you and Colin Firth. I dont know. I just like it just because it …

TUCCI: OK (laughter).

MARTIN: … So, like Coupley (ph). I mean, I just like it because …

TUCCI: (laughter)

MARTIN: You know, I’ve been married a long time too and …

TUCCI: Yes.

MARTIN: It just made me laugh. So I’ll just play this.

TUCCI: All right. OK.

MARTIN: There is no other reason than this. Here it is. How about that

TUCCI: Yes.

MARTIN: (laughter)

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “SUPERNOVA”)

FIRTH: (as Sam) You always seem to find your own way, don’t you?

TUCCI: (as Tusker) Oh, come on. It’s Kosner (ph).

FIRST: (as Sam) It’s ridiculous.

TUCCI: (as a Tusker) No, it’s not.

FIRST: (as Sam) Yes.

TUCCI: (as Tusker) He’s …

FIRST: (as Sam) Wait a moment. You’re in the middle of it [expletive] Bed. I’m on the verge Now I’m more on the edge.

TUCCI: (as Tusker) All right.

(SOUNDBITE OF THUD)

TUCCI: (as tusker) (laughter) Are you okay?

FIRST: (as Sam) That’s it. I sleep in [expletive].

TUCCI: (as Tusker) No, no, no, no, no. Come on. Come on. Come on. Come here. Come here. Come here.

FIRST: (as Sam) Yes. Well move a little

TUCCI: (as Tusker) All right. All right (laughter). Come here. Come here. Come here. I’ll keep you – I’ll be like a little …

FIRTH: (Laughter) Could – you could have improved this scene, I bet, right? So…

MARTIN: Well, there was a lot of improvisation, I have to admit. Yes there was. Yes. I mean i love that

TUCCI: I love this scene because I really think that only when people (laughter) – Colin has often said that the hardest things to do on screen at times are the easier moments, like the moments of ease between People, because actors – you know, as actors, we don’t – you know, you may have worked with someone a long time ago, or you have – you know, but for the most part you go in. They go, hi, I’m Stan (ph). Hello, I am so and so. OK, now you are lovers. Now you are. Now you are there. And you have to somehow make everything believable.

But I think the drama is, in a way, the more dramatic stuff, in a way, easier. It’s that – it’s the ease and the kind of ease that people who have known each other for a long time have with each other. This is difficult to achieve with someone you don’t know. But with – but we have it because that’s us.

MARTIN: I wonder if you were thinking about your own mortality while filming this role.

TUCCI: Yes, it definitely did. Like I said, it’s very scary to watch these documentaries. And it’s great – yes. I mean, death has always been something that I – you know, I’m from southern Italy – my heritage is southern Italian, and death is always talked about – always talked about, always – and joked about it. You talked about food and you talked about death. And you did – you talked about her seriously and you joked about her. So yes, no question. It – yes, it couldn’t make the wheels spin any faster.

MARTIN: Did it make you think differently in any way?

TUCCI: Well, it just makes you want to enjoy the time you have here, you know? And I just turned 60. I’m – luckily there is long life in my family on both sides, so I hope so – my dad is 90. You know, I have uncles and aunts who are in their 90s. And I hope I have those genes (laughter).

MARTIN: Well, you have a little – you have small children. So they will keep you alive and awake (laughter). You…

TUCCI: They will. They hold you …

MARTIN: They’ll keep you going (laughter).

TUCCI: Yes. They keep you young and make you feel really old at the same time, you know?

MARTIN: (laughter)

TUCCI: Yes. Also, I lost my wife to breast cancer 11 years ago. And there is no question that, you know that, too – you know, this is a scary thing to watch, and it is, you know, a sad thing for all of us – devastating.

MARTIN: Well, but also the pandemic. The fact is that if you are a sensitive person at all, the hospitals are full. You see, you know, healthcare workers have just reached their limits. And you’re…

TUCCI: Yes.

MARTIN: You know, I think even if you weren’t a sensitive person, you’d be worried. And I wonder if you’ve thought about it as an artist – you’ve had the opportunity to work, but a lot of people say that they found themselves introverted inside in a way that they didn’t expect. And I was just wondering if you had been thinking differently about your work or your life all this time. Has it changed anything for you?

TUCCI: Yeah, it made me be a little more picky. It made me want to be more efficient and just get things done and not hesitate and try to make as much money as I can as soon as I can so I can retire …

(LAUGH)

TUCCI: And I don’t always have to leave my family.

(LAUGH)

MARTIN: Oh boy. Well then good luck. If you find out, please let us know.

TUCCI: Yes, I know. I don’t know how that will happen, but we will find out.

(LAUGH)

MARTIN: That was the actor Stanley Tucci. His new film “Supernova”, in which he co-stars with Colin Firth, is available now.

Stanley Tucci, thank you very much for talking to us today.

TUCCI: Thank you very much. It is really nice to talk to you. Many Thanks.

(SOUNDBITE BY RACHEL FULLER’S “LAMENT”)

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