“I’m the guy you went to high school with when I walk down the street,” he said.
Actually, many believe he is one of the most talented actors of his generation, a syringe of adrenaline in whatever he appears. Two Emmys, but who’s counting. Two Tony nominations, but no hard feelings.
There’s too much work to do. Every morning lately, he gets picked up at 6 a.m. by a chauffeured car to head to the set of the film “The Irishman,” his third collaboration with Martin Scorsese — what’s that guy know about talent? — the latest in a line of mentors. The playwright Lanford Wilson was another, along with his ex-father-in-law, Sidney Lumet.
“He likes saying to me, ‘I feel like we’ve worked together our whole lives,’” Mr. Cannavale said. “And I say, we haven’t, because I’m 40 years younger than you.” (28, technically.)
It wasn’t always thus. The young Bobby Cannavale used to come to the city from Jersey with just enough money for the bus and maybe 10 extra bucks for a slice and a soda, and audition and audition and audition.
“I always wanted to make a living as an actor living in New York,” he said. “A New York actor. What’s better than that?”
He offered a tour of his new pile, a three-story 19th-century house in brownstone Brooklyn, which he and Ms. Byrne renovated and then moved into in the final moments of her pregnancy.
In the early days, untrained (aside from church-group productions as a child), it was slow. “I did so many acting jobs for nothing,” he said. “I was in a play that opened on Christmas Eve above a police precinct on 54th Street. Three people showed up. One of them was an agent. It was my first agent.”
In person he is gentle and accommodating — did I want a coffee? Something to eat? — not the tough he’s often called to play. He settled onto a pink couch (the color scheme is, in the main, green and pink) in his living room to talk. “I don’t mind pink,” he said. “I can handle a pink couch.”