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Bobby Cannavale, an actor bloodied but unbowed

June 4, 2011 |  7:30 am

BobbyIf Bobby Cannavale wins a Tony Award next Sunday for best actor in a play, the honor will represent a coronation of sorts for the 41-year-old die-hard of the New York stage.

The play for which Cannavale has been drawing raves — and now a Tony nomination — is Stephen Adly Guirgis’ “The Mother… With the Hat,” a 90-minute, round robin of combustible, often hilarious recrimination and self-rationalizing that at its center is about  Cannavale's Jackie trying desperately to stick with the A.A. program after finding his girlfriend with a mysterious hat.

Though the violence in the play is almost strictly verbal, playing Jackie has left Cannavale with an athlete’s range of injuries — from a torn rotator cuff to the eight-stitch gash he opened above his left eyebrow when he banged his face backstage during a quick scene change.

Talking about his work, Cannavale exudes the sort of exuberance that suggests he would walk through, if not into, a wall. “All I ever wanted to do was be an actor,” he said. “I’ll never figure it out … but I always want to get deeper and deeper. Just keep going with it.”

On a bench on the Upper West Side of Manhattan overlooking Riverside Park, Cannavale sat down with The Times and reminisced about his father-in-law, director Sidney Lumet, discussed his influences in the theater world and talked about his own upbringing across the Hudson River. He also joked that he’s one of the most injured actors you’ll ever meet.

For the Arts & Books profile, click here.

-- Paul Brownfield

Photo: Bobby Cannavale. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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