Stanley Tucci Talks Future Career Goals and Playing a Tech Genius in the New Series ‘Citadel’

Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci attends the Los Angeles première screening for Prime Video's 'Citadel,' April 25, 2023. Photo: Jon Kopaloff/WireImage/Getty Images

Upon meeting Stanley Tucci for an interview in London recently, I noticed almost instantly that the actor is gracious and charming — happy even — and I told him I felt lucky to catch him after his lunch. A notorious foodie on and off screen, he loves a good meal over anything else. So much so, in fact, that he won two of his five Emmys — one for each season — for his foodie travels on the CNN series Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.

The 62-year-old actor’s versatility has led to an impressive career that spans more than four decades. He shared that he enjoys trying different roles and doesn’t like to repeat himself. Hence, his body of work — which includes more than 100 acting credits — runs the gamut of drama, action and comedy.

Tucci’s latest role is on the Russo brothers’ new spy series, Citadel, which premières on Prime Video on April 28. The series follows Citadel, the independent global spy agency tasked to uphold the safety and security of all people. Eight years ago it was destroyed by operatives of Manticore, a powerful syndicate. With Citadel’s fall, elite agents Mason Kane (Richard Madden) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) had their memories wiped and built new lives under new identities, unaware of their pasts. Until one night, when Mason is tracked down by his former Citadel colleague, Bernard Orlick (Tucci), who needs his help to prevent Manticore from establishing a new world order.

Tucci plays a tech genius for the spy agency, but the character is complicated — which was a draw for the New York-born actor. “He’s not just the tech guy for the spy agency, he’s one of the guys who runs it. He’s also a guy who still goes out in the field and has a lot of secrets that our main characters don’t know about themselves and about Citadel and about the past. So there’s quite a bit there, and he has his own secrets that he probably keeps from himself,” he told me, our interview taking place just a few days ahead of the global première of Citadel in London.

Tucci admits that he enjoys working on the complexities of roles: “If it’s just a one dimensional character, it’s really boring. And who cares? You don’t want to take those roles if you can help it.” He shared that, just like in real life, the more layers the characters have, the more interesting it gets.

He added that a fair amount of himself is reflected in Bernard, with the exception of the tech abilities. He doesn’t possess any of those. Rather, the closest personal trait of his own that’s reflected in the role is his ability to care for the people he works with.


Stanley Tucci
Stanley Tucci as Bernard Orlick in ‘Citadel.’ The actor admits that he doesn’t share his character’s proficiency with technology. Photo: Paul Abell/Prime Video


Meanwhile, when asked about the goals he sets for himself as an actor at 62, his answer is pretty simple: he still likes trying different things. 

“And let’s face it, sometimes you do things because there’s more money attached and sometimes you just do this, you think, ‘That’s a beautiful project, I’m gonna do it,’” he explained with a smile. “Sometimes [it’s] the directors, sometimes it’s another actor. Sometimes it’s just the role. You think, ‘Oh, I’d love that. I’ll go in and you work for two days and it’s nice.’”  

Tucci cites a project he’s working on with Edward Berger, who directed the Oscar-winning All Quiet on the Western Front. Titled Conclave, it’s based on a novel by Robert Harris that he loved. “He asked me to do it and I was thrilled. It is the complete opposite of Citadel, except sort of a medium-sized film. But an absolutely fascinating story about the choosing of a new pope.”

He’s also working with the Russo brothers — Anthony, 53, and Joseph, 51 again on an upcoming film, The Electric State. “I loved what they did, and …  it was fun; they created a great environment on the set.”

The Russos are known for shaking up the Marvel cinematic universe with their work on the films Captain America: The Winter SoldierCaptain America: Civil WarAvengers: Infinity War, and the massively profitable Avengers: Endgame, which scored nearly US$3 billion at the box office. And with Citadel on Prime Video, they are creating a global franchise with spinoff series in countries around the world that will all be connected by the Citadel spy agency. It’s an ambitious undertaking with a massive scope and scale that’s never been done before on a streaming platform.

“It’s harder than Marvel for sure, because this is brand new storytelling. We’re building this universe from the ground up, block by block,” Joe Russo told me, in Toronto, about the Citadel spinoffs. “We have a show in Italy that just wrapped production, we have a show in India, and they’re all interwoven … It’s really been the most rewarding thing that we’ve done in our careers.”


Tucci, seen here in ‘Citadel,’ reunited with the series’ directors, the Russo brothers, for an upcoming film project. Photo: Courtesy of Prime Video


It’s easy to see why Tucci admires efficiency in his directors, and it’s a trait I instantly associate with the Oscar-nominated actor. Curious, I asked him about it. “I like to be efficient. Not in my real life, but on screen. I think it’s really important because filmmaking is a very tedious craft, and you want things to move along as swiftly as possible. If you can facilitate that, I think that’s good.

“Being able to do that comes from … 40 years of experience. When I was younger, I used to make things more complicated. And then you realize, ‘I don’t have to make them that complicated. It’s much easier than you think it is.’”  

Tucci shared that he has his own process with his roles, noting, “Sometimes I am a sort of method actor, but it depends on the role. I’m not the kind of actor who will stay in character for an entire shoot or for an entire day. Sometimes not for an entire line. The goal is to make things truthful. However, you get there, you get there. As long as you don’t waste anybody else’s time.”

For Tucci, the biggest challenge is being away from his family. “So part of what I tried to do … is stay home as much as possible, and work within close proximity to my house. And that makes a really big difference for your family life. It’s nice just sleeping in your own bed and making your own food.”  

Unlikely, though, to slow down, I asked if he has a 20-year career plan. 

“I want to do as little as possible in the next 20 years,” he quipped, deadpan. Then he smiled and added, “No, you can’t make plans in show business. I learned that a long time ago. Although I still keep trying. I want to do as much as I can. I want to do as much good work as I can.”

Citadel  premières on April 28 on Prime Video, with new episodes released every Friday through May 26.