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Bobby Cannavale Biography


Home > Actors > C > Cannavale, Bobby > Biography


Birth Name: Bobby Cannavale
Born: 05/03/1971
Birth Place: Union City, New Jersey, USA


Cannavale was born on May 3, 1970 to a Cuban mother and Italian father in Union City, NJ. His strict, yet supportive mother made sure her son stayed out of trouble, making him participate in as many extracurricular activities at St. Michael's Catholic School as possible. But domestic trouble arose in the Cannavale household and his parents divorced. At age 13, Cannavale moved to Puerto Rico with his mother for two years. He later moved to Miami where he attended high school, then went back to New Jersey to live with his grandmother. After high school, Cannavale joined the prestigious Circle Repertory Theatre for several years, doing whatever he could to get his chance to perform. He started by sweeping floors, then served as a reader for plays being prepared for production, and was finally asked to be an understudy in the French farce, "A Flea in Her Ear." Cannavale was asked to fill in for lead Mark-Linn Baker and had, according to the actor, the best experience of his life.

His performance in "A Flea in Her Ear" led to him being cast in "Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" by scribe Paul Rudnick. A casting director for Warner Bros. brought famed television writer-director-producer John Wells to the play. Wells enjoyed Cannavale's performance so much that he cast him on the short-lived NBC drama "Trinity" (1998-99). The series was cancelled after one season, but Cannavale maintained a strong relationship with Wells, who created the roll of Bobby Caffey for the actor on his next series, "Third Watch." After three seasons on the popular NBC drama about police, paramedics and firefighters in New York City, Cannavale's character was killed off after he requested to leave the show. He moved on to the A&E series, "100 Centre Street" (A&E, 2001-02), a drama that recounted stories of Manhattan-based prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys. However, Cannavale did not restrict himself to television. He made brief appearances in several feature films, including "I'm Not Rappaport" (1996) and "Night Falls on Manhattan" (1997), directed by future father-in-law Sidney Lumet. (Cannavale would go on to marry Jenny Lumet, daughter to Sidney and granddaughter to Lena Horne). Cannavale next played Randy in the massive comedic misfire "The Guru" (2002), co-starring Heather Graham and Jimi Mistry, as well as appearing in the critically acclaimed indie "Washington Heights" (2001), followed by a recurring stint on the final season of "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002).

It was not until "The Station Agent" (2003), written and directed by actor friend Tom McCarthy, that Cannavale was given the chance to sink his teeth into a major film role. Cannavale played the fast-talking, but perpetually lonely Joe Oramas, a hotdog vendor who pesters Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage), a dwarf seeking total isolation at an abandoned train depot, into a grudging friendship. Co-starring Patricia Clarkson, "The Station Agent" won the coveted Audience Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and the Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance for Clarkson.

Cannavale's profile continued to rise with his roles on the NBC gangster family miniseries "Kingpin" (2003), an Emmy Award-winning guest stint as Will Truman's cop boyfriend Vince on the hit sitcom "Will & Grace," and a guest role on HBO's "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05). He returned to the big screen in John Turturro's murder musical, "Romance and Cigarettes" (2004), and played Jennifer Lopez's homophobic dance student in "Shall We Dance" (2004). Cannavale's co-starring role in the romantic comedy "Happy Endings" (2005) was little-seen, but in the following year, he showed extraordinary range with roles in Armistead Maupin's psychological mystery, "The Night Listener;" the character-based indie "10 Items or Less;" and the hugely hyped horror film, "Snakes on a Plane." In addition to his feature work, Cannavale regularly revisited procedural dramas like "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010) and "Cold Case" (CBS, 2003-2010), while appearing in supporting roles in indie films ranging from the comedy "The Ten" (2007) to the gritty urban heist flick "The Take" (2007).

The stage veteran hit Broadway in 2008, co-starring in a production of "Mauritius" that earned him a Tony nomination for Featured Actor in a Play. The same year, he appeared off-Broadway in the premiere of Frank Pugliese's "The Talk" and in the under-the-radar feature "Diminished Capacity" (2008), starring Matthew Broderick. He once again donned a police uniform for the horror flick "100 Feet" (2008) then sent up his frequent "man in uniform" image by playing a mall cop alongside comic actor Kevin James in the hit comedy, "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" (2009). Fresh off the success of this unlikely hit, Cannavale returned to primetime in the spring of 2009 as the matchmaking mental patient lead of the series, "Cupid" (ABC, 2009). Following a small supporting role opposite Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in the action comedy "The Other Guys" (2010), Cannavale landed an episode of "Blue Bloods" (CBS, 2010- ), and starred on Broadway opposite Chris Rock and Annabelle Sciorra in "The Motherf**ker with the Hat" (2010), which earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Leading Actor. From there, he was Ron Eldard's high school nemesis in "Roadie" (2011) and had a small part in the hit caper comedy "Tower Heist" (2011), starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. Back on television, he had a recurring role on "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime, 2009- ) as a new physician at All Saints' Hospital, which earned him an Emmy nomination for guest actor in 2012, and delivered a memorable comedic turn on season three of "Modern Family" (ABC, 2009- ).