The living room of actor Jonathan Tucker’s 1927 Hancock Park home echoes Africa, India and old New England, marrying the unique past he and his wife, Tara Tucker, share through art and a surprise family connection.
Tucker’s father, art historian and professor Paul Hayes Tucker, was college roommates with gallery owner and African art historian Ernie Wolfe. After graduation, Wolfe’s first trip to Africa — and what inspired his career in African art — was a visit to Tara Tucker’s family at their hotel in Mombasa, Kenya (her grandfather and Wolfe’s father had met at a Rotary Club in London).
“Ernie was picked up on the tarmac by my father-in-law and now, 40-something years later, here is the product — a marriage. Ernie remains a close and dear friend to us,” said Tucker, 37, known for his work on HBO’s “Westworld” and DirecTV’s “Kingdom.” (The couple only put this connection together one night while having dinner with Jonathan’s parents at Wolfe’s house.)
Myriad African pieces are displayed throughout the high-ceilinged living room of the 1,900-square-foot home. Flanking the tall, arched window are vigango, carved wooden memorial statues from Kenya, which Tucker calls “the matronly and paternal spirits of this room, and the home.” And surrounding the fireplace, relics that Tucker recognizes might give pause — 100-year-old elephant tusks, the last items from the safari-outfitting shop of Tara Tucker’s family.
“As big supporters of WildAid and anti-poaching,” Jonathan Tucker said, “we use these as conversation pieces to talk about the cause and the organization.”
Old paintings of colonial India honor Tara Tucker’s mother, who is from Delhi, while the room’s architectural details and original tile fireplace recall the 19th century Boston row house where Jonathan Tucker grew up.
Why is this your favorite room?
This room reminds me of my childhood at 21 Monument Square in Boston, with the high ceilings, the crown molding, arched window and original fireplace. Growing up in an old home you understand that you’re really just a custodian of it and not the owner, so take good care of these older homes and particularly the details they have to offer.
This is a gorgeous window.
This arched window and the glass are original. The glass has this squiggly quality to it when you look through, which denotes it’s antique. I love the light that it brings into the room, the inviting quality that the window has to the neighborhood. [The frame] had been eaten away by termites and water damage, so we knew it was going to be very expensive to fix it. It took us a few years to save the money, but this team came in one day and did a wonderful job.
Do you use this fireplace?
When you’ve lived in Los Angeles for an extended period of time, you realize that the city has four seasons. I love having a fire in here during the winter. If it’s cold I love to get up really early and have a fire going for when my wife wakes up. I love the smell of it.
You have some fascinating art in here.
The polished bronze and stainless steel compression rocker is by Tarik Currimbhoy. There is a Frank Gehry Wiggle Chair made out of cardboard, and this spectacular console and coffee table are by Julio Betanco. For my wife’s birthday, I got her this Man Ray flat iron with nails that go through it. My wife does so much work for our family that I think it’s kind of a fun gesture to say this is not something that could ever be used for a utilitarian purpose.