It would be hard for some actors to keep this many roles straight in their heads. “I just took two weeks off to shoot this film, and then I have to go back and finish Boardwalk, and then I start rehearsal the day after that,” Cannavale told Vulture. “I pretty much keep going like that. I like living like that. And the nine-mile walk, I do that shit in the city, that’s my little break. I don’t need much more than that. All I ever wanted to do is to be a working New York actor. And I’m managing to do it.”
However, it could get to be a little much to keep the characters separate. “I’ve got them in my head all the time,” Cannavale said. “I’m pretty much always in my head with these characters, which is pretty much why you’ll see me walking in the street talking to myself most of the time. Thank God I live in New York.”
The actor is especially excited about acting alongside Al Pacino in Glengarry Glen Ross. Cannavale recalls, “When I sat next to him at the Tonys, we were nominated against each other, I had to turn to him and say, ‘Mr. Pacino, it would mean everything to me’—I called him Mr. Pacino— ‘if you could come to see my play.’ And he said, ‘I’m gonna come; I promise I’m gonna come.’ And he came to the last show [of The Motherfucker with the Hat]. And then he stayed in my dressing room for like two hours. He wouldn’t leave. Just talking to me, talking to me, talking to me, about acting, about me, about him, about how we should find a good play. And then a few months later I got the call asking me if I’d have an interest. Duh. It was like the most ‘duh’ phone call I ever got.”
His many roles, onstage and off, have proven Cannavale to be a diverse actor. “A career is long, hopefully—I want my career to be long—so hopefully it’ll go through a bunch of different stages and I’ll never really get figured out,” he said. “Earlier in my career, I was always playing the nice guy. Then I was always playing the gay guy who you think is straight and is not.”
Cannavale can be seen next on the new season of Boardwalk Empire on HBO at 9 p.m. on September 16.