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Citadel's Stanley Tucci Opens Up About Brutal Cancer Treatment

Nobody would accuse Amazon Prime Video's new series, "Citadel," of being extremely original. It's a story following secret agents working for an independent organization not run by the government (similar to "Kingsman: The Secret Service"), involving agents who have lost their memory and have to rediscover their spy past (Jason Bourne anyone?) and working to stop an evil organization from retrieving the nuclear codes for all nuclear weapons in existence (pretty straightforward spy plot). Still, the surprisingly enjoyable series has one very good thing going for it: Stanley Tucci.

While Richard Madden ("Game of Thrones," "The Bodyguard") and Priyanka Chopra ("Quantico," "Baywatch") hold the fort as the two spies realize their dormant skills, Tucci appears as Bernard Orlick — a combination of James Bond's M and Q — both assigning their mission and providing them with the fun tech that every spy should have. When you have the kind of talent that Tucci brings to any project, you don't need a ton of originality to make it enjoyable to watch, especially with the Russo Brothers ("Avengers: Endgame") at the helm.

But Tucci has come a long way in his health journey in order to portray this action role, as he opened up to Willie Geist on an episode of "Sunday Sitdown." After being diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017, the actor — who is now cancer free — recalled that his struggle was "brutal" and "awful" and that he was "completely terrified."

He had a feeding tube for six months

As Tucci told Entertainment Weekly in March of 2022, it took two years of experiencing jaw pain for him to receive his cancer diagnosis. He said he had a scan, but it missed the tumor at the base of his tongue that they eventually found after consulting multiple doctors. When he recalled the procedure on "Sunday Sitdown," he detailed how difficult the treatment was for him.

"I lost 35 pounds," the actor revealed. "I couldn't eat. I had a feeding tube for six months, and everything tasted like you-know-what and smelled like you-know-what. And it took months and months and months for me to finally be able to eat again and then taste properly again."

Considering how long it took before the cancer was discovered, he is extraordinarily lucky that it didn't spread further. The treatment took 35 days of radiation and seven chemotherapy treatments. But with the ordeal taking a toll on his senses, it is a wonder how he was even able to continue his food-tasting show.

He was more worried about losing taste than death

What is worse than death for a self-proclaimed foodie? Losing your taste. Stanley Tucci told US Weekly in 2021 that tasting food was one of the most important things for him, saying, "I mean if you can't eat and enjoy food, how are you going to enjoy everything else?" Of course, tasting food is more than just a delicacy of life; it is also the main idea behind his CNN food travel show, "Searching for Italy."

He told the outlet that there were some definite issues he faced when filming the show. One specific issue was that he could taste the food but couldn't always swallow. He had one episode where he had to eat steak and had to chew for 10 minutes before swallowing, sometimes having to spit it out. He also recalled a time when he was making a dish with fellow actor Colin Firth and thought the food tasted horrible. Firth wrote to US Weekly and commented that Tucci just didn't taste the same thing everyone else did.

Despite this, there wasn't any hesitation from Tucci when he signed on to continue the series amidst his struggle. He told Us Weekly, "There was no way I wasn't going to make it. I've wanted to tell for a long time the story of Italy and the disparate cuisine in every region." While he may only be a more charming version of Batman's Lucius Fox in Amazon Prime's "Citadel," Tucci has proven in real life-or-death situations that he has the ability to show strength, courage, and perseverance.