'He invited me back to his hotel suite. I didn’t even know something that big existed'
The idea for the music business drama Vinyl originally came from Mick Jagger, and he and Martin Scorsese spent two decades developing the project, first as a film and then as a TV show. As a result, once Scorsese and showrunner Terence Winter decided that Bobby Cannavale was the right person to play the lead role of record label founder Richie Finestra, the actor still had to travel to meet, and get the blessing of, the legendary singer, who was performing in Washington, D.C., with the Rolling Stones.
“We got on really well,” recalls Jagger. “I thought he was a very accomplished actor. His film work was good, it was quite varied, he was obviously able to do different kinds of characters.”
But the meeting was important to Cannavale for reasons beyond Jagger signing off on his casting. In fact, the actor says that observing Jagger helped him play the role of Finestra, a wealthy — if troubled — music obsessive.
WANT MORE EW? Subscribe now to keep up with the latest in movies, television, and music.
“It was really valuable for me to be backstage at the Stones concert, and see how people are around him, and how he is around people,” Cannavale tells EW. “After the show, he invited me and my lady [actress Rose Byrn] back to his hotel suite. First of all, I didn’t even know something that big existed. The terrace was bigger than my apartment. I couldn’t find the bathroom. I was like, ‘Where is this f—ing [thing]?’ He had on the TV, where you can just play music, and he had it on the blues channel. And every single song that came on, man, he knew it. That was really interesting. Sonny Boy Williamson would come on and he’d go, ‘Oh, man, this song …’ And he’d tell a little story about it. He’d talk about the first time he heard it, or whatever. That was helpful to me. I don’t know if he knew that or not but, for me, just hearing him talk about his influences, very off-the-cuff, gave me good insight into who this character could be.”
Vinyl debuts Sunday on HBO. See a trailer below.
A version of this story appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1402, on newsstands now