How Bobby Cannavale's new role took him to 'some pretty dark places' - Rokoto

How Bobby Cannavale’s new role took him to ‘some pretty dark places’

If you’ve ever seen New Jersey-born actor Bobby Cannavale perform on the screen — big or small — you know there’s more vigour and vibrancy to his personality than a pixelated video chat is ever going to do justice to.

That said, beggars can’t be choosers in this day and age, so, alas, we’re meeting over Zoom to discuss Cannavale’s latest project, an eight-part mini-series adaptation of Australian author Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel Nine Perfect Strangers.

Bobby Cannavale Nine Perfect Strangers.
Bobby Cannavale stars in Nine Perfect Strangers. (Supplied)

In the series, Cannavale is cast as Tony, a former pro athlete dealing with chronic pain, who checks into a luxurious wellness retreat in the Californian wilderness run by a mysterious Russian woman named Masha, played by Nicole Kidman.

READ MORE: Melissa McCarthy says ‘human contact’ is essential in a world dominated by technology

“I knew the character was dealing with a trauma that was almost insurmountable. I approached [the role of Tony] as someone who was at the end of his rope, and that can take you to some pretty dark places for sure,” Cannavale told Today Extra.

Joining Tony for the 10-day retreat at Masha’s Tranquillum House is quite the crowd of colourful characters — each with their own physical and emotional scars — played by some other serious Hollywood heavy-hitters including Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans and Regina Hall, and a few home-grown stars too, including Asher Keddie and Samara Weaving.

Nine Perfect Strangers
Nicole Kidman as Masha in Nine Perfect Strangers. (A Current Affair)

For Cannavale and McCarthy, Nine Perfect Strangers marks their fourth on-screen partnership and their most serious to date, having previously teamed up for the comedy flicks Spy, Thunder Force and Superintelligence. 

“I just never know what I’m going to get with Melissa but I’m always up for it. I enjoy working with her so much,” Cannavale said. 

When the pandemic forced production of Nine Perfect Strangers to move from California to New South Wales last year, Cannavale decided to make the shoot a family affair. He brought his famous other half Rose Byrne and their kids along, setting up home in Byron Bay for a few months.

READ MORE: Grace Van Patten was ‘mesmerised’ by Nicole Kidman when she arrived on set for Nine Perfect Strangers

Bobby Cannavale Nine Perfect Strangers.
Bobby Cannavale joined an all star cast in Nine Perfect Strangers. (Supplied)

“We always say it’s to keep the band together. I’ve been to Australia many times, but I’d never been to Byron. It’s like no place on Earth, really,” Cannavale said. “[On set] we talked a lot about family back home, that was the topic of conversation and how people were doing. It was a unique time in history to be working during a global pandemic.”  

In addition to the significant star power in front of the camera, Nine Perfect Strangers boasts some serious cred behind the scenes too.

READ MORE: How Nine Perfect Strangers led Asher Keddie to consider her own mortality

The series is the latest offering from Australian super-producer Bruna Papandrea, who has experienced enormous success and won critical acclaim in recent years bringing female-focused projects like Big Little Lies and The Undoing — both of which also starred Nicole Kidman — to international screens. 

“Nicole and I have been friends for a long time. We just kept finding more things to make together,” Papandrea said. “Everything we do is really unique and distinctive. I think people will be surprised with how funny, moving and relevant this story is.” 

Nine Perfect Strangers premieres on Friday on Amazon Prime Video.

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