Accepting the role in the 2006 film was 'the one time I listened to everybody,' the 'Vinyl' actor tells EW
Credit: James Dittiger

Bobby Cannavale is a prolific actor, whose recent credits include Nurse Jackie, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Spy, Danny Collins, Ant-Man, and the new HBO music biz drama, Vinyl. “I like to work,” he says. “I think I have a pretty good work ethic. My whole family works. I come from a long line of workers, and union people, and people who enjoyed going to work, and I always enjoyed going to work, doing this.”

For the most part, Cannavale has avoided appearing in anything too trashy or egregiously lowbrow. The one glaring exception? 2006’s Snakes on a Plane, in which he plays an FBI agent. So, how did the acclaimed Broadway thesp and two-time Emmy winner come to board that particular — and particularly dumb — Hollywood vehicle?

“Everybody knows that actors have managers, and all that,” says Cannavale. “And some people listen to them. But I don’t listen. I just trust my gut. If I feel like they’re ganging up on me, and they’re all saying, ‘Do this,’ and I don’t want to do it, I have to remind them. I say, ‘I know that you’re used to doing something a certain way. But I’m different.’ The one time I listened to everybody was Snakes on a Plane,” he says with a laugh.

“I was like, ‘Guys, it’s called Snakes on a Plane!!!’ I remember this conversation. They were like, ‘It’s going to be huge! You should do it. Gotta do it. It’s gonna allow you to get cast in other things.’ Having said that, I had a great time on it because that director, David [R. Ellis], was a really, really, really good guy. He passed away very suddenly a couple of years ago. He was great, a former legendary stuntman, who they got to direct this. He was such a kind guy and it felt very low-pressure. I used to joke, for me, the movie’s called The Guy on the Ground. Because I never got to be on the plane. It was me and Todd Louiso running around on the ground trying to find anti-venom. It’s just ridiculous. But it didn’t hurt me, it didn’t help me. It just — you know, I’m part of a movie called Snakes on a Plane. Not much else to say!”

Vinyl debuts Sunday on HBO. See a trailer below.

A version of this story appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1402, on newsstands now

Snakes on a Plane
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