“I feel like maybe 20 years ago I wouldn’t have been ready to do this part” – Bobby Cannavale on his role in ‘Vinyl’
Though HBO’s Vinyl hasn’t gotten the ratings the network has hoped, it still has a lot of faith in the 1970s rock and roll drama. The main reason for that faith is probably the show’s star — Bobby Cannavale, an acclaimed actor who has finally gotten a chance to carry a show on his own after years of second or third billing. In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Cannavale spoke about the long-awaited opportunity and how his previous roles prepared him for his lead role.
Cannavale heaps praise on the opportunity that Vinyl offers him as an actor who has never been cast in major lead roles in film and television. He says, “I’ve never gotten to play a role that’s this dimensional. I’ve never been the lead in anything before, and that’s what the role calls for. I really can do anything in this part. It was set up that way.”
However, Cannavale isn’t pining over the fact he hasn’t gotten many lead roles before because he feels all of his work has culminated in this character on Vinyl. He explains, “I feel like maybe 20 years ago I wouldn’t have been ready to do this part. I’ve played a lot of different roles in the years leading up to this and I think those roles really sort of prepared me for it. I’ve gotten to play leads on stage before and in the last say, 10 years, I’ve gotten to play bigger roles and more interesting supporting roles, and I think they’ve all kind of led me to this character in a way. I’ve gotten to play elements of this character in other parts, and I really get to put it all together now and really have fun with it.”
Considering his fast experience on stage and screen, Cannavale has worked with dozens of directors. The ones he feels most comfortable working with are the ones who challenge him with questions. He points out, “I like when a director asks questions, and they may be rhetorical questions that he already has the answer to, but he’s making you feel like you’re coming up with the answer. I find that really good directors do that.”
He also has had to turn down dozens of roles, and in particular he avoids stereotypical Italian-American roles (although his turn as a gangster on Boardwalk Empire won him an Emmy Award). He says, “My agents are always afraid to bring me things that are a detective or a mob guy. A couple of pizza guys. I actually got a pizza-mob guy once.”