Bobby Cannavale’s Advice to High School Actors: “‘Say yes to everything,’ because you learn by doing”

bobby-cannavale-the-big-knifeI never got guest speakers this cool in my classes… did you?

Thirty Bronx Theatre High School students had the opportunity to pick the brain of one of New York’s top stage actors, Bobby Cannavale, when he visited with them on behalf of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s education program to chat about acting.  The visit happened a few days after they saw him perform on stage in the company’s production of The Big Knife.

Cannavale joked with the students about what he had to draw from in order to portray his sometimes vicious characters.  He said, “If I play a killer, I’ve never killed anybody but I’ve wanted to.  You can access certain feelings that you have never acted on…(and) put it out there.”

Despite his recent acclaim for his role as the psychopathic gangster Gyp Rosetti on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Cannavale told the students that he hopes that his next major role is completely different.  He explains, “(That show) was one of the best-written things I’ve ever done, …but I want to do something different so that people say ‘That’s the same guy? Oh my God, I didn’t know that.’ That for me is what I enjoy out of this.”

Nonetheless, he also told the students about the difficulties of trying to make it as an actor, saying, “This is a business where you have your ups and downs.  Somebody told me a long time ago, when you’re coming up in the business, ‘Say yes to everything,’ because you learn by doing.”

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