Childhood & Early Life
Bobby Cannavale was born on May 3, 1970, in Union City, New Jersey. His parents, Sal and Isabel Cannavale, are of Italian and Cuban descent, respectively. His parents moved to the US in the 1960s. They were ardent Catholics. Bobby was enrolled at ‘St. Michael’s Catholic School,’ allowing him to participate extensively in extra-curricular activities. He was an altar boy and a member of the chorus for the church.
Bobby grew up in a bad neighborhood, teeming with anti-social elements. This made him avoid the streets and spend more time practicing extra-curricular activities. After he joined his school’s drama group, he made appearances in plays such as ‘The Music Man’ and ‘Guys and Dolls.’
He witnessed his parents’ divorce when he was 13 years old. His mother got his custody and brought him back to Puerto Rico for the next couple of years. However she soon returned to the US, and they settled in Coconut Creeks, Florida. In the late 1980s, as he graduated from ‘Coconut Creek High School,’ Bobby developed a significant interest in acting.
Following his high-school graduation, Bobby moved to New York to make a career in professional acting. However, he avoided joining professional acting classes and relied on live experiences to hone his skills. While he spent his nights working in bars to support himself, he spent his days at ‘Naked Angels,’ a reputed theater company.
Esteemed playwright Lanford Wilson saw Bobby’s performance in a production of ‘The Normal Heart.’ Wilson spotted Bobby’s talent and immediately invited him to join ‘Circle Repertory Company,’ one of the most famous theater circles in New York City. He started as a “reader” for the company but eventually started acting in plays such as ‘Chilean Holidays’ and ‘Virgil is Still the Frog Boy.’
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After auditioning for a lot of roles in the mid-1990s, Bobby got his first acting break in the film ‘I’m Not Rappaport.’ He then appeared in films such as ‘Gloria,’ ‘The Bone Collector,’ and ‘3 A.M.’ In 1998, he made his TV debut with a supporting role in the TV film ‘When Trumpets Fade.’
Bobby got his first major breakthrough with the crime-drama series ‘Third Watch.’ Bobby appeared in the series as a paramedic named ‘Roberto “Bobby” Caffey.’ The series turned out to be a critical and commercial success.
Pumped up with the success of his debut TV series, Bobby continued to star in films such as ‘Washington Heights’ and ‘The Guru.’ He appeared in the legal drama ‘100 Centre Street,’ which was directed by his then father-in-law, Sidney Lumet, in 2003. As he gained fame as an actor, he was selected to play a key role in the last two episodes of ‘Oz.’
He then starred in the film ‘The Station Agent’ and the series ‘Will & Grace.’ He won a ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for his performance in the latter. Toward the mid-2000s, he played numerous small and supporting roles in films such as ‘Snakes on a Plane,’ ‘Shall we Dance?,’ and ‘Fast Food Nation.’
In addition, he also guest-starred in the series ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Law & Order.’ In 2007, he played a key role in the film ‘The Take.’
He then turned to voice acting for a few projects. He lent his voice to the character of ‘Corado R Ciarlo’ in the acclaimed film series ‘The War.’ He also lent his voice to the audiobook versions of Richard Price’s novel ‘Lush Life’ and Ed Falco’s novel ‘The Family Corleone.’
In 2009, Bobby bagged the main role in the series ‘Cupid,’ a remake of the 1998 series of the same name. After initial speculations and a rather cold public response to the pilot, the series was eventually canceled.
While he kept himself busy with TV and films, he also did theater from time to time. As he gained experience and widespread fame in the world of acting, he received a nomination for the prestigious ‘Tony Award’ for his role in the ‘Broadway’ production of ‘Mauritius.’ In 2011, his remarkable performance in the ‘Broadway’ play ‘The Motherfucker with the Hat’ earned him another ‘Tony Award’ nomination.
In 2012, he joined the cast of ‘Nurse Jackie’ for its fourth and fifth seasons. He received an ‘Emmy Award’ nomination for his performance as ‘Dr. Mike Cruz’ in this series. The same year, he appeared as ‘Gyp Rosetti’ in the popular series ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ for 11 episodes. This role earned him the ‘Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series’ in 2013.
In the next few years, he made supporting/small appearances in films such as ‘Blue Jasmine,’ ‘Chef,’ ‘Adult Beginners,’ and ‘Annie.’ In 2015, he appeared in the ‘Marvel’ superhero film ‘Ant-Man,’ playing the role of ‘Jim Paxton.’ More recently, he has made appearances in the films ‘I, Tonya,’ ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,’ and ‘The Fundamentals of Caring.’
In 2016, he appeared as one of the supporting characters in the series ‘Vinyl,’ for 10 episodes. In 2017, his performance as ‘Irving’ in the series ‘Mr. Robot’ earned him a nomination for the ‘Critics’ Choice Television Award’ for the ‘Best Supporting Actor.’
In 2018, Bobby is all set to appear in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp,’ the sequel to the superhero film ‘Ant-Man,’ which will have him reprise his role of ‘Jim Paxton.’ He is also slated to appear in the mega-budget film ‘The Irishman,’ directed by Martin Scorsese.
In the early 1990s, Bobby Cannavale dated screenwriter and actor Jenny Lumet, daughter of critically acclaimed filmmaker Sidney Lumet. The couple got married in 1994. In 1995, their son, Jake Cannavale, was born. Jake later built a career in acting, following in his father’s footsteps. Bobby and Jake have appeared together as a father–son duo in the fourth season of the series ‘Nurse Jackie.’
In 2003, Bobby and Jenny divorced. In 2012, Bobby started dating actor Rose Byrne. In 2016, Bobby fathered a son again, when his and Rose’s first child, Rocco Robin Cannavale, was born. In November 2017, Rose gave birth to another baby boy, Rafa.