Bobby Cannavale on Acting: ‘It was the only thing I ever wanted to do, really”


Bobby-Cannavale-Boardwalk-EmpireThere are a handful of actors who scare the crap at me, and  at the top of the list is Bobby Cannavale. It’s not just because he’s a tough looking guy, but he happens to be a phenomenal Broadway actor in addition to his television credits.  In fact, he is currently starring in the revival of Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway alongside Al Pacino and John C. McGinley. In an interview with NPR, Cannavale explains why he prefers acting on the stage and his thoughts about how that compares to starring on Boardwalk Empire.

Cannavale explains that when he read plays while in school he felt an immediate connection.  He says, “I was just drawn to them because in my head I heard the voices. I would act out the parts in my head. So it was the only thing I ever wanted to do, really.”

Obviously then Cannavale has a lot to say about starring in one of the stage’s greatest plays.  When reflecting on Glengarry Glen Ross, he points outs, “It’s one of those plays that actors talk about and say, ‘It’s a perfect play.’ And it’s a perfect play because it’s about, you know, seven guys who desperately want something and need something at a time when people desperately want and need things. It was written, you know, in 1982. I think it’s a prescient play to do today, but let’s face it, I mean, I think great plays are about people wanting things, [being]desperate for things. I think [that’s] what makes great drama, and I think that’s one of those things that’s just always resonant. It’s just what we are as a culture and in America in particular.”

However, Cannavale recognizes that despite the acclaimed cast from night to night the performance changes — and not always for the better.  He says, “I think that is what makes it the living, breathing thing it is. We joke about it sometimes, you know. We’ll get together at the curtain call. We all come out. The curtain’s down, and there’s the quick four-word review from everybody, you know: ‘Not bad.’ Last night, Johnny [McGinley] actually said, ‘Solid B. Solid B, guys.’ … It happens. Maybe somebody’s not as desperate, let’s say, it throws it off. It throws it off, but not necessarily in negative ways. It just means that one guy gets eaten a little easier than he did the night before. … I know yesterday I was late because the train took forever, so I was rushing the whole time and went out not quite prepared, and something else happened.”

Besides his role in Glengarry Glen Ross, Cannavale starred in the third season of Broadwalk Empire. He completely enjoyed the experience and said,  “Everyday felt like I was coming to work in a theme park because everything around you — every stitch of clothing I wore — was handmade with vintage fabric from the time, and every prop is from its time. The lighters are very difficult to work and the cars, and, you know, they spare no expense. So it’s not like you see the same car driving back and forth in the background — there’s 30 cars. Packards and Model Ts. … So it definitely makes it a very immersive experience, [and it’s]easier to work when you’re surrounded by it all like that.”

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