How does it feel to have gotten one of five Best Actor nominations in the season’s most competitive Tony category?
[Cannavale is nominated with Brian Bedford, Joe Mantello, Al Pacino and Mark Rylance.] I’m really proud to be in that group, especially since I’ve gotten to see those four actors give such great performances. I guess it could be [weird], but both of us really wanted to be here.
Chris [Rock], who had never been through this before and felt a big responsibility being in the show, was really concerned—so much so that on opening night, when we gathered at five minutes [to curtain], he said, “Let’s have a great time tonight because we might not be doing this tomorrow.” I was like, “Hey man, it’s opening night! What’s been the mood backstage since the Tony nominations were announced, with three of the five cast members being honored? The first phone calls I got were from Chris and Annabella [Sciorra] congratulating me, and that’s a testament to their professionalism and their compassion. We’re truly an ensemble, which is why there are no single bows at the end of the play. I’ve never felt that I was the engine of any project, including in this play.
That’s nice of you to say, but you are the engine of this play. I love being onstage the whole time—I’ve never done that before, and it’s an exciting opportunity in a great role.
[Cannavale co-stars with Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan and Jeffrey Tambor in the hit indie comedy.] There’s another connection that was made in the theater: [writer/director] Tom Mc Carthy and I met 16 years ago, doing Lanford Wilson’s play Virgil Is Still the Frog Boy, and started a long and fruitful friendship that turned into a great working relationship.
Cannavale also had a recurring role on the NBC comedy series Will & Grace as Will Truman's long-term boyfriend Officer Vincent "Vince" D'Angelo, for which he won the 2005 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series; and portrayed Gyp Rosetti during the third season of the HBO drama series Boardwalk Empire, for which he won the 2013 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
I can be a leader here.” I hope my enthusiasm rubs off on people!
Speaking of ensembles, what about the fantastic group in the movie Win Win?
You could easily have had Robin [Williams] and James Earl Jones in there, any number of actors, so it’s an honor to be included. Were you able to avoid any weird feelings about working together? Annabella recognized how great the play was, and the part was; we’re here for the common good.
This is the god’s honest truth: It doesn’t matter to me whether I win or not. Camaraderie at the theater is obviously very important to you.