In bringing Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones” to the screen, director and co-writer Peter Jackson knew just as much hinged on casting young Susie Salmon, the murdered teen narrator (Saoirse Ronan) as it did on casting her killer, George Harvey. To hedge his bets, Jackson turned to veteran stage and screen actor Stanley Tucci. “We actually had people say they’d never take this role because they couldn’t imagine spending months walking in the shoes of this man,” Jackson remembers.
Tucci himself had his own reservations, he admits. “I was very reticent to take the part at first because I have kids, and I can’t really read anything or watch anything with kids getting harmed,” says Tucci, last seen in Julie & Julia as a loving husband to Meryl Streep’s Julia Child. “I don’t like things with serial killers. A lot of it’s gratuitous or pornographic, almost.”
Luckily, Tucci is far from a method actor. “I’ll go as far as I have to go in order to make you believe me,” Tucci says of becoming a disturbed killer beneath Mr. Harvey’s quiet, unassuming surface.
“In the end, it’s pretending. So really, if I don’t feel anything while I’m making a movie, it doesn’t really make any difference. What makes a difference is what you feel watching me. If you believe me, that’s all that matters.”
“I think Stanley hated inhabiting the skin of this character,” he says. “He tried each night to shower off the reptilian stuff.” Tucci admits that he might’ve had those problems at first. “But once you once you understand who he is and you find him, for me, then I could drop him at the end of the day,” he says.