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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Even though veteran actor Stanley Tucci is the father of three children, playing the dad in new movie "Easy A" was unfamiliar territory.
Tucci, a veteran actor whose recent roles have ranged from an Oscar-nominated turn as a murderer in "The Lovely Bones" to a heartwarming performance as Julia Child's doting husband in "Julie & Julia," said he'd never played a character quite like the post-modern papa named Dill in "Easy A."
In the film, which debuts in U.S. theaters on Friday, Dill is surprised to find his teenage daughter Olive (Emma Stone) furiously sewing a scarlet letter onto a bustier in tribute to Nathaniel Hawthorne's adulterous literary heroine.
As Olive takes to wearing similarly-labeled custom outfits to high school and spreading false rumors of her own promiscuity, Tucci's dad still manages to keep his cool.
"As a parent, it would be great if I could be as relaxed as these people in the movie are," Tucci laughed as he spoke to Reuters. "It'll never happen. But a thing that I have in common with Dill is that I do joke around with my kids. We laugh a lot. But again, I couldn't let go that much -- no way."
Tucci said he never takes a role without keeping his children in mind, and "Easy A" was no exception after it came his way roughly 18 months ago just after his wife Kate died of breast cancer in April 2009.
"This was the first movie I had done since she died, and I hadn't worked for a while. And they were very kind, and condensed it (his shooting schedule) into three days."
By contrast, his time on the set when filming next summer's big-budget action flick "Captain America: The First Avenger," in which he plays mad scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine, was more demanding.
"I was gone for over three weeks, and that was a little hard," he said. "The kids were okay because it was summer. They were having a great time. But I have to orchestrate things very carefully. I always did, but particularly now because I'm a single father, I can't go away for too long."
Even within these constraints, Tucci still finds plenty of ways to express his remarkable versatility as an actor, writer, director and producer.
While he hasn't acted on Broadway for seven years due to the grinding, daily workload on the Great White Way, he hopes to undertake the more flexible job of directing a play a year.
He made his Broadway directorial debut earlier this year with a Tony-nominated revival of the farce "Lend Me a Tenor," starring Tony Shalhoub.
Tucci plans to keep audiences equally entertained on film. He has shared the screen with Meryl Streep twice as an actor -- in "Julie & Julia" and 2006's "The Devil Wears Prada" -- and he's set to direct her and Tina Fey in the comedy "Mommy & Me" next summer.
He is producing the feature along with his partners Steve Buscemi and Wren Arthur through their Olive Productions company.
His array of other upcoming film work includes a role alongside Cher and Christina Aguilera in the musical "Burlesque," due in theatres this November.
For Tucci, the variety is "why you're an actor...we're all multiple personalities, and actors just allow themselves to access those personalities and figure out a way to make a living doing it. So you live all of these different lives in one."
Still, it's clear that the life to which he's truly committed is that of an involved father.
"My kids don't really like to watch me in movies," he said. "They just want me to be me. They're great kids. They're incredible. And they're all really funny. Thank God."
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte