Tucci was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Lovely Bones (2009). He won two Emmy Awards for his performances in Winchell and Monk. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children, for The One and Only Shrek!.
Tucci was born in Peekskill, New York, and grew up in nearby Katonah, the son of Joan (née Tropiano), a secretary and writer, and Stanley Tucci, Sr., an art teacher at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York. His parents, both of Italian descent, had roots in Calabria. He is the oldest of three children; his sister is actress Christine Tucci. Screenwriter Joseph Tropiano is a cousin. During the early 1970s, the family spent a year living in Florence, Italy.
He attended John Jay High School, and SUNY Purchase, where he majored in acting and graduated in 1982. Among his classmates at SUNY Purchase was fellow acting student, Ving Rhames. It was Tucci who gave Rhames the nickname by which he is now known, "Ving".
Tucci earned his Actors' Equity card when actress Colleen Dewhurst, the mother of Tucci's high-school friend, actor Campbell Scott, arranged for the two young men to have parts as soldiers in a Broadway play in which she was co-starring, The Queen and the Rebels, premiering September 30, 1982. His film debut was in Prizzi's Honor (1985). He performed at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1991 in a Molière play. Tucci is known for his work in films such as The Pelican Brief, Beethoven, Kiss of Death, Road to Perdition and Big Night, and in the television series Murder One as the mysterious Richard Cross. Big Night (1996), which he starred in, co-wrote with his cousin Joseph Tropiano, and co-directed with Scott, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film also featured his sister Christine and their mother, who wrote a cookbook for the film. It won him and Tropiano the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
He has been nominated three times for Golden Globes, and won twice – for his title role in Winchell (1998), and for his supporting role as Adolf Eichmann in Conspiracy (2001), both for HBO films. He also received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Winchell. He was nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actor in a Play for his role as Johnny in the 2002 revival of Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.
In 2004, Caedmon Audio released an audiobook of Tucci reading Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions.
In July 2006, Tucci made an appearance on the USA Network TV series Monk, in a performance that earned him a 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor – Comedy Series. Tucci's TV series, the medical drama 3 lbs., debuted on CBS on November 14, 2006, but canceled that November 30 due to low ratings. He provides the voiceover in the AT&T Wireless "Raising the Bar" marketing campaign. In 2007, he had a recurring role in medical drama ER.
In 2009, Tucci portrayed George Harvey, a serial killer of young girls, in The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson's adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel, for which he received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. To prepare for the role, he consulted with retired FBI profiler John Douglas. The following year, Tucci directed a revival of the Ken Ludwig play Lend Me a Tenor on Broadway, starring Tony Shalhoub. Tucci played Dr. Abraham Erskine in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. He has appeared in such films as The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and Julie & Julia (2009), both opposite Meryl Streep, and as Caesar Flickerman in The Hunger Games and its sequels, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. In 2013, he played the role of the Ancient Greek God Dionysus in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
Tucci then portrayed Kinetic Solutions Incorporated CEO Joshua Joyce in Transformers: Age of Extinction and then played wizard Merlin in its 2017 sequel Transformers: The Last Knight.
Tucci was co-owner of the Finch Tavern restaurant in Croton Falls, New York. His cookbook, The Tucci Cookbook, was released in Autumn 2012. On September 24, 2013, Variety and Entertainment Weekly reported that Tucci will guest voice-star in the long-running adult animated series American Dad!, the episode slated to air as part of the show's 10th season (2013–14). In January 2015, Tucci was cast as one of the leading roles in Screen Gems horror-thriller film Patient Zero, along with Matt Smith and Natalie Dormer.
Tucci played the role of the composer Maestro Cadenza in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.
Tucci's first wife, Kathryn "Kate" Tucci (b. 1962), died of breast cancer in 2009. She was a social worker and former wife of actor and stage manager Alexander R. Scott, the elder son of actors Colleen Dewhurst and George C. Scott. She and Tucci married in 1995 and had three children. The couple also raised Kate's two children from her previous marriage.
In 2011, Tucci became engaged to Felicity Blunt, an English literary agent and the elder sister of Tucci's The Devil Wears Prada co-star Emily Blunt, who introduced the couple several years after they worked together on Prada. Tucci and Blunt married in a civil ceremony in summer 2012, followed by a larger observance at Middle Temple Hall in London on September 29, 2012.
After moving their home from New York to London, on October 19, 2014, Tucci and Blunt announced that they were expecting their first child together. On January 25, 2015, Blunt gave birth to the couple's son, Matteo Oliver.
On September 12, 2016, Tucci, as well as Cate Blanchett, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Peter Capaldi, Douglas Booth, Neil Gaiman, Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Kit Harington, and Jesse Eisenberg, featured in a video from the United Nations' refugee agency UNHCR to help raise awareness to the global refugee crisis. The video, titled "What They Took With Them", has the actors reading a poem, written by Jenifer Toksvig and inspired by primary accounts of refugees, and is part of UNHCR's #WithRefugees campaign, of which also includes a petition to governments to expand asylum to provide further shelter, integrating job opportunities, and education.Tucci, Stanley (October 9, 2012). The Tucci Cookbook. Gallery Books. ISBN 978-1451661255.
Tucci, Stanley; Blunt, Felicity (2014). The Tucci Table: Cooking With Family and Friends. Gallery Books. ISBN 978-1476738567.