Two years ago, when Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth confirmed they were making a romantic movie together, Vanity Fair’s Laura Bradley wondered what we did to deserve this gift from the heavens. After all, it isn’t so often that two such elegant, distinguished, charming actors—ambidextrously gifted in drama and comedy—are coupled romantically on-screen. And Supernova, which opens in theaters January 29 and is available on VOD February 16, does just that—pairing the duo as a longtime couple as it embarks on a meaningful road trip.
But as Tucci told Vanity Fair this week, he and Firth have actually been enjoying a real-life love story—albeit platonic—stretching back two decades.
“We met 20 years ago when we were doing Conspiracy, which was a movie for HBO where we played Nazi [officials],” reminisced Tucci by phone from London. “And me and Colin, we just sort of hit it off and we stayed friends ever since. Even when we were separated for long periods of time—maybe we would run into each other at a film festival; he’d come to New York, or I’d go work in London—we always stayed in touch.”
The actors took their friendship to the next level, so to speak, when Tucci and his three children relocated to London following the 2009 death of his first wife, Kate, from cancer. In the years since, both men have undergone major personal changes. Tucci married English literary agent Felicity Blunt, and had two more children. In 2019, meanwhile, Firth and his wife, Livia, announced that they were splitting after a 22-year marriage; they share three sons.
“When I started living here, we became even closer and our kids became close and our families became close,” said Tucci. “We’ve seen each other through some very difficult times that each of us have had personally. Things like that only make your relationship deeper, richer.”
When Tucci received the Supernova script from filmmaker Harry Macqueen, he was struck by its beautifully simple love story: two middle-aged men, named Sam and Tusker, who travel through England’s Lake District as they grapple with Tusker’s diagnosis with early-onset dementia. Tucci immediately knew that Firth would be the perfect actor to play opposite him, and passed the script to Firth even before asking Macqueen what he thought about the potential casting. Fortunately, the writer-director approved—and after toying with taking opposite roles, Tucci assumed the part of Tusker, with Firth playing Sam.
Tucci and Firth’s established friendship and rapport helped the actors plug into characters with shared history, annoyances, and inside jokes. Take for example the below Supernova scene, which the stars improvised—in which Tusker embarrasses Sam with a long-running gag—shared exclusively with Vanity Fair.
While filming at several holiday camps outside London, the actors spent their weekdays essentially living as a couple “with the exception,” said Tucci, “of sleeping together.” After long days on set, Firth would walk to the bungalow beside the one where Tucci was staying. And Tucci—a lifelong foodie who premieres a new CNN show called Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy on February 14—would cook.
“He’d come over after we shot and we’d have dinner and talk about the movie or talk about whatever, like we normally do,” said Tucci. When Friday rolled around, the duo would “take the train back home to see our wives and kids on a Friday night. And that train from Lake District can be quite long, five hours or something. But we’d sit together on the train and continue talking and have a bottle of wine or something.”
“We don’t seem to get really bored of each other, unless he’s just being polite,” said Tucci. Marveling at how much time they’ve spent together in the last 20 years, Tucci said that the actors really “should have” grown tired with each other by now. Because, he laughed, “I’ve got news for you: Neither of us are that interesting.”
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