Born in Peekskill, New York, Tucci graduated from the acting program at State University of New York at Purchase when he was 22 and got his first film role three years later. But he would have to wait another 11 years before his “big night” which would literally come with the film Big Night (1996), a film he not only acted in but also wrote and directed.
About getting to make Big Night (1996), an excellent little movie about two Italian brothers and a failing restaurant that’s guaranteed to make you hungry, Tucci says, “There are exceedingly few people in the world that make the movies they want to make. Woody Allen is one of them. Maybe Bernardo Bertolucci’s another. And I guess Bertrand Tavernier. All the others are dead. Even Marty Scorsese struggles. So the chance to do what you set out to do…that’s precious.”
In Big Night (1996), Tucci the brother who wants to compromise on quality and flair in order to keep the failing restaurant afloat while his perfectionist chef sibling (Tony Shalhoub) wants only to create culinary masterpieces. Both actors turn in fine performances that helped them further their careers.
“As an actor,” Tucci said about the time immediately following the release of Big Night (1996), “my life has definitely changed. I don’t have to go around begging for jobs now.”
Since his big break, Tucci has landed roles in other hit films such as A Life Less Ordinary (1997), co-starred in Montana (1997), played the mischevious Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), and Preston Boyd in the 1999 thriller, In Too Deep (1999). Tucci was married in 1995 and his wife, Kate, gave birth to twins in 2000. However, after Tucci reportedly began dating actress Edie Falco while they were co-starring on Broadway in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, his wife Katie demanded a separation. Tucci and Falco’s relationship ended in 2004. Katie took him back, but he lost her to breast cancer in April 2009.