Bobby Cannavale

A star of film, television and stage, Bobby Cannavale has appeared in ‘The Station Agent,’ ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and ‘Blue Jasmine.’


Award-winning actor Bobby Cannavale started performing as a child. After high school, he worked to break into the New York theater world. Cannavale first attracted some notice for his early television work on such shows as Third Watch, which ran from 1999 to 2001. He went on to receive acclaim for the 2003 independent film The Station Agent. In 2005, Cannavale received an Emmy Award for his role on Will & Grace. More accolades followed, including a Tony Award nomination for the play Mauritius in 2008 and another Emmy win in 2013 for Boardwalk Empire. His recent films include Blue Jasmine (2013), Annie (2014) and Adult Beginners (2015).

Early Life and Career

Born on May 3, 1970, in Union City, New Jersey, actor Bobby Cannavale discovered his passion for theater at an early age. He appeared in school productions growing up and used to go to New York City to plays when he was a teenager. The son of a Cuban mother and an Italian father, Cannavale moved around a bit after they split. He spent most of high school in Florida with his mother but ended up finishing his studies in New Jersey after being expelled. As he explained to the New York Times, he almost didn't graduate: “I didn’t have the credits, because I failed math every year, so I had to go to summer school."

Determined to become an actor, Cannavale lived with his grandmother in New Jersey while he tried to get his first big break. He worked as a bouncer at a number of New York nightclubs, including Club U.S.A., Café Society and Tunnel while performing in plays. One of his first early breaks was landing a role in the play The Normal Heart in 1994. Playwright Lanford Wilson saw him in this production and brought him aboard the Circle Repertory Company, which Wilson had co-founded. It was his performance in a Circle Repertory production that brought him to the attention of TV producer and writer John Wells. Wells loved Cannavale and cast him in two of his series, Trinity and Third Watch. While Trinity failed to find an audience, Third Watch became popular with viewers.

A Versatile Performer

After the success of Third Watch, Cannavale took on an interesting string of film, television and stage projects. He starred in the short-lived legal drama 100 Centre Street, created by his then father-in-law Sidney Lumet. Cannavale also had a recurring role in the comedy series Ally McBeal and played a gay drug dealer in the prison drama Oz. On the big screen, Cannavale earned great acclaim for his work in the independent film The Station Agent (2003) with Peter Dinklage and Patricia Clarkson. Other film roles from this time included John Turturro's Romance & Cigarettes (2005) and The Night Listener (2006) with Robin Williams.

In 2005, Cannavale won his first Emmy Award for his work on the sitcom Will & Grace. He played Will's police officer boyfriend, Vince, in a recurring role. Cannavale won more raves—and a Tony Award nomination—for his work on the Theresa Rebeck play Mauritius in 2008. He picked up another Tony Award nod in 2011 for Stephen Adly Guirgis's The Motherf**ker with the Hat, which also co-starred Chris Rock. Back on the small screen, Cannavale won raves for his portrayal of two very different characters. He had a recurring role on the dramatic comedy Nurse Jackie as Dr. Mike Cruz, which earned him two Emmy Award nominations. On Boardwalk Empire, Cannavale played the violent and unpredictable bootlegger Gyp Rosetti. In 2013, this role netted him his second Emmy Award win.

Around this time, Cannavale had a chance to work with one of his acting idols, Al Pacino. The pair appeared together in the 2012 revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. Cannavale then moved on to another dream project—a chance to work with Woody Allen. Cannavale starred in Allen's Blue Jasmine (2013) with Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins. He then showed off his musical talents in Annie (2014) and his comedic chops in Adult Beginners (2015). Also in 2015, Cannavale worked on his first big budget action film, Ant-Man, with friend Paul Rudd. He is set to return to television in Martin Scorsese's upcoming HBO series as well.

Personal Life

Bobby Cannavale is currently dating actress Rose Byrne. The pair has appeared together in several projects, including Annie (2014) and Adult Beginners (2015). He has a son from his first marriage to screenwriter Jenny Lumet. Cannavale was also previously involved with actresses Sutton Foster and Annabella Sciorra. 

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