The film is set in Paris but was made mostly in London, where Tucci has lived since 2014 with his children and English wife Felicity Blunt – the literary agent older sister of his Devil Wears Prada co-star Emily Blunt – whom he married in 2012. Tucci’s first wife, Kate, died of breast cancer in 2009.
London, he says, has opened up career opportunities. He played a British cop in the Arctic Circle sci-fi thriller series Fortitude. Yes, it perplexed him too: “Well, if someone explains it to me, I’ll explain it to you.”
He’s starring opposite Emma Thompson in the forthcoming BBC adaptation of Ian McEwan’s The Children Act.
The shift across the Atlantic also helped Final Portrait finally get made, with British producers.
And just as the Italian restaurant setting of his 1996 directorial debut Big Night allowed Tucci to indulge his love of food (he has two cookbooks to his name), making Final Portrait let him get back in touch with his love of art – and his own artistic sensibilities.
“I’ve only directed movies that I really love and have a connection to. It’s something that I’ve written or that I’ve created myself from the ground up or I’ve adapted.
“So, I want to tell a story the way I want to tell it. If I make money, that’s fine. But I never make money when I direct a movie. I have to go act to make money.
“So to me it’s worth it, because you can create something the way you want to, otherwise it would be like making a painting and having somebody sitting over your shoulder saying, ‘I think it would be better if you use the blue now’. I’m not interested in that.”
Final Portrait is in cinemas from October 5.
This article was first published in the October 7, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.