Bobby Cannavale on Nine Perfect Strangers and the Fight Over His Character’s Beard - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Bobby Cannavale on Nine Perfect Strangers and the Fight Over His Character’s Beard

Adapted by David E. Kelley and John Henry Butterworth from the book by best-selling author Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies), the Hulu original series Nine Perfect Strangers follows a group of folks who have left the stress of their lives behind to unwind, as they spend ten days at a health and wellness resort. As part of their retreat, Masha (Nicole Kidman) has promised them a path to mind and body healing, if they give themselves over to her mission, which has more in store for them than they ever could have bargained for. The series also stars Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Bobby Cannavale, Regina Hall, Samara Weaving, Melvin Gregg, Asher Keddie, Grace Van Patten, Tiffany Boone and Manny Jacinto.

During this virtual 1-on-1 interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, Cannavale talked about his experience playing retired football player and recovering drug addict Tony Hogburn, how he got involved with the show, deciding on his character’s look, why he’s impressed by co-star Kidman, the scene that made him laugh, and his reaction to the ending of the season.

Collider: When the opportunity to play one of these nine perfect strangers came your way, what was it that got you most interested in and excited about it?

BOBBY CANNAVALE: Melissa McCarthy – she’s the one that reached out and let me know about it. She’s a good friend and she was looking out for me. She said, “You know, this could be interesting. We’ve never done this before. I’ve never seen you play this kind of character. It’s really interesting.” So, I read it, and I read the book. I just thought it was a good exploration of trauma and different ways that people try to work through that grief. In particular, the character was interesting because he was a dichotomy. He was a guy who volunteered to be there, but then spent all of his time really doing everything he could to get out of there. It was a real challenge to figure out how to make that interesting. I thought it was pretty funny too, that somebody could be in the depths that deep, and yet I thought there could be some comedic gold to mine there.

RELATED: Michael Shannon on ‘Nine Perfect Strangers,’ Filming the Waterfall Scene, and Working with David Leitch on ‘Bullet Train’

Is there ever a worry when a friend sends you a project like that? What do you do, if you don’t like it? Are you someone who’s pretty honest and will say, “I don’t think this works for me”?

CANNAVALE: Yeah, you have to be honest. I have been in situations like that. Luckily, I haven’t had any friendships break up over my not wanting to do it, but you do have to be honest. It’s a long time to spend with a project. You would hope that everybody that’s involved is there because they wanna be there and they believe in it, so it’d be a tough thing for me to fake my way through the work.

Whose decision was the beard? Did you contemplate whether to have a beard or not to have a beard, or were you always going to have a beard for him?

CANNAVALE: That was me. I wanted to grow the beard. I wanted to wear that hat. Nobody wanted me to wear that hat, so that was a good fight. I just thought he was a guy who really didn’t wanna be recognized. It probably happened to him before, that he does get recognized. It happens in the script. And I just thought, “What would this guy try to do to really, really be unrecognizable?” He’s addicted to painkillers, so he definitely would gain weight. So, I did that. I grew the beard, really just to lend a little bit more mystery to the guy. He’s letting himself go. I think the guy’s at the end of his rope when we meet him. He’s trying his best to disappear, and I wanted him to look that way. That’s why I wanted his clothes to be 20 years old.

If you’re going to get screwed around with by anyone, it seems like Nicole Kidman is a good choice to have do that to you. What did you most enjoy about exploring the dynamic with her character and how was the experience of having her as a scene partner in this role?

CANNAVALE: I liked very much how the character brings an air of mystery about them, and yet the actor who plays them has to be filled with a really deep well of complexity. Nicole has been doing this for awhile and she’s played a lot of different roles, and I’m always impressed with just how much she takes on. It’s hard to work that much and not repeat yourself. She’s a great example of somebody who just challenges herself so much. So, I was excited to get to work with her because I thought, “Well, this is such a weird character. There’s just so much going on here.” The writing supports that history, particularly the way that information is parsed out in the show and how we learn about her experience and her trauma. I thought that the character was compelling, on the page. I just knew that she was gonna bring something to it that would make those scenes charged, particularly those early scenes with Tony, when we don’t know a lot about either of them. Something happens in that room. I think Tony is the kind of character that is so forceful. His nature is so forceful that it’s a good idea to have him in conflict with her, very early on, when you don’t know much about them. I looked forward to shooting those scenes, and we did shoot them pretty early when I didn’t really know Nicole that much. There was this sense of trying to figure each other out in that scene that was very real.

There’s also some wild stuff that happens in this show. Could you ever have imagined that you would do a project where you had a scene in which Luke Evans was birthing your baby? What was that like to shoot?

CANNAVALE: Funny, I almost forgot about that scene. Maybe it’s a mental block. I laughed so hard. We laughed so hard. And then, you’ve got everybody in the cast at that at the foot of the bed, loving it. It was so weird. It’s a dream sequence, so that’s what’s fun about a dream sequence. You can do anything. I think there’s another scene, if it’s still in there, where I’ve got a long-haired wig and I’m a romance novelist cover boy. Those are always fun because you can do anything in a dream. When you consider why they’re having those kinds of dreams, it’s even more fascinating. That’s a reveal that comes later in the show.

What was your reaction to the ending of the series and where things are left, for all of these characters, but specifically for your character?

CANNAVALE: I liked the ending of it. I think some things are left unsaid. Some things are left pretty vague. The characters heal, in some way or another. They’re not completely healed, but they’re not completely broken. I think at the beginning of the story, they’re all pretty close to completely broken, whether they’re showing it or not. At one point, Luke’s character says, “You know, she chose us specifically. She curated us.” And I think that’s true. The thing they have in common is that they are as broken as one can possibly be. And so, by the end of that experience, I think that they’re in a better place, certainly than they were when they got there. If there’s any message to be taken away, there might be something to taking the time for yourself, to shake it up a bit and to shake the tree, as it were.

Was there a most challenging part of this shoot or a most challenging scene, or is it all just fine when you’re doing something as kind of wild and crazy as this gets?

CANNAVALE: The more physical scenes were challenging, if only because I gained so much weight and I wasn’t really taking good care of myself. Anytime I had to run, I was a bit worried because I’ve got bad knees and I wasn’t in shape, and I was playing this injury. For me, it was more physically challenging than other roles, but a big part of that was just really having to continually stay in a place of physical pain. That’s something that Jonathan Levine and I talked a lot about. This guy doesn’t get up from the chair without it really hurting, so living in that place was something that I had to stay very focused on. That was probably a good challenge.

Nine Perfect Strangers is available to stream at Hulu.



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