Meryl Streep is not just one of the most celebrated actresses of our time but also in the history of film. In my opinion, Stanley Tucci is one of the best actors of our generation. He is reminiscent of the character actors of the great golden age of classic cinema.
Though Streep is a leading lady and Tucci usually fills supporting roles, they both have the talent of utterly inhabiting the characters they play onscreen. Whether silly or serious, they don’t just act, but they become, creating a reality for the viewers which is rare in entertainment.
So, it is surprising that these two legends of the screen have only been paired together twice so far in their long careers. It is even more surprising when you watch them together in their two films, because their onscreen rapport is so natural and genuine. Great talent is necessary to make the characters and the story come alive for an audience. But even the best of talent cannot fake the natural chemistry that must exist between actors to make the onscreen relationship between them credible. Either it is there or it is not. So let us take a look at the films of this power house duo.
This story centers around the naive young Andy (Anne Hathaway) and her personal growth and development while working within the fashion industry she disdains. Andy goes to work for the famously chilly Miranda Priestley, editor of a top fashion magazine. While there she is befriended and mentored by Nigel, Miranda’s loyal right hand man.
Athough Anne Hathaway is clearly the main character, Streep and Tucci both have large supporting roles as Miranda and Nigel. This film was their first pairing together but you would never guess it by watching them onscreen. Though Tucci plays Streep’s subordinate, often over-looked “girl Friday” there is a trust and a subtle understanding in their relationship. This is only present in two people who have known and worked together for a long time. I honestly thought that they must have made several other films together before this one thanks to their natural interaction.
It’s as if each knows the mind of the other and at times they do finish each others thoughts. Miranda is clearly a control freak. But because they share a passion for the same thing, Nigel is one of the only people she implicitly relies on. They each have invested their lives into the magazine. For his part, Nigel trusts that Miranda is looking out for him and will reward him for his devotion, at the right time. Without being overt, Nigel has Miranda’s back, even though she does take him for granted. All of this is conveyed by Streep and Tucci despite a lack of one on one scenes together. Only two experts such as these could manage to convey a complex and committed relationship when they rarely interact together.
The film version of Paul and Julia Child was made for the hashtag #relationshipgoals. This movie focuses on the dual story line of Julia Child as she develops her famous cookbook and Julie Powell as she spends a year cooking through the recipes of that same book. But it is Paul and Julia that I adore.
At first glance Paul and Julia seem like an odd pairing. But they are proof that appearances can be deceiving. Their utter acceptance and encouragement of each other is charming and enviable. I really appreciate seeing Tucci as a sincere love interest. He seemed to enjoy it as well sharing, ” …to be a romantic leading man with Meryl—nothing could be greater! We’re becoming closer friends, and that film solidified the friendship.”
Streep also appreciated working with Tucci as her romantic lead stating, “We knew each other in that way and I just sort of am in love with him from afar anyway with the totality of the man, from his acting to directing work and in every way. So does everyone who knows him. He’s just real treat to work with. It wasn’t a tough job to imagine being in love with him.”
Their personal rapport easily translated onscreen in Julie and Julia. There is an ease and comfortability in their interactions with each other which help bring Paul and Julia to life. Though their relationship has its’ challenges, mostly incurred by outside circumstances, they remain a tight-knit team. Julia willingly follows Paul to every foreign posting, accepting whatever living conditions they land in. Paul reciprocates by encouraging Julia to be true to herself. In the hands of lesser actors this could come across feeling saccharine and false. But Streep and Tucci are able to convey the emotional depth behind the characters. This gives all who see them together relationship envy.
Sadly, at the time of this posting Streep and Tucci have only starred in these two films together. Let us hope for all of our sakes that there will be more in the future. It would be an utter shame not to see these two onscreen together again.
For your pleasure I have attached the following interviews with both Streep and Tucci regarding their work together and which I have quoted in this post.