Talking To Bobby Cannavale About His Steve Buscemi Impression: Live From LAByrinth’s Celebrity Charades

Senior Pop Culture Editor
01.15.13 7 Comments

After multiple hard-fought rounds of charades, where nearly two dozen very famous, very pretty people were asked to throw self-respect aside in favor of acting out Happy Endings, Buried Child, “Super Freak,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and Beasts of the Southern Wild, the two teams left standing consisted of, among others, Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon, A Simple Man‘s Richard Kind, former Tennessee Titan Eddie George, and Dexter star David Zayas on one side and Chris Rock, Padma Lakshmi, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and America Fererra on the other.
Meanwhile, Bobby Cannavale, Sam Rockwell, Law & Order‘s S. Epatha Merkerson, Olympic ice-skater Sasha Cohen, The Good Wife‘s Josh Charles, and Billy Crudup looked on from the gladiator-themed sidelines, disappointed that they weren’t able to convey Game of Thrones well enough to their teammates.
Such was the genre-mashed scene last night at New York’s Capitale for the 10th Annual Celebrity Charades Benefit, which raised money for the esteemed LAByrinth Theater Company. The talent mentioned above was there to participate (and to get two very wealthy men to pay $11,000 each to play along with them), and we were there, too, to take photos (courtesy of Nadia Chaudhury) and conduct interviews. And maybe see Sam Rockwell dance.

By this time next week, we’ll know who’s playing in the Super Bowl. As someone who’s played in the game before, what advice would you give to a first-timer?
I’d say definitely embrace the moment. It’s a childhood dream that lives up to the hype, because for two weeks, you’re a celebrity. Not just in the football world, but worldwide. You can get into any place you want to, free meals, free champagne. The trick is, if you lose, all that goes away.
You played against Ray Lewis, who’s retiring after this season, many times throughout your career. Is there a hit or a game against him that you remember clearly?
There’s not, or at least not just one. We came in together in 1996, the same division. We faced off against each other several times, and you always had to know where #52 was. And you knew it was going to be a problem — your career might end that day.
Who you got for next week?
I’m feeling Baltimore and San Francisco.
Yes, she’s very pretty; no, I didn’t give her your number.
I spoke to Josh for about five minutes, but my recorder decided to erase the interview, so I can’t provide an exact transcript, but, basically, Josh Charles is awesome. He’s a huge Baltimore Ravens fan, and talked about having his heart ripped out by the New England Patriots last year. I also asked him for his opinions on sports announcers, considering his tenure as Dan Rydell on Sports Night. He didn’t want to offend anyone, and therefore wouldn’t name names, but did admit that too many football play-by-play men love to hear their voices and need to pipe down during the games. There were also some non-sports questions, like which one of The Good Wife‘s 7,000 great guest stars would be the best at charades (“Martha Plimpton”), but he seemed content just to shoot the sh*t about football.
Again, Josh Charles is awesome. BOO PATRIOTS GO RAVENS.
You were great on Boardwalk Empire this season. Were you disappointed that your character, Gyp Rosetti, couldn’t stick around longer?
Nah, I knew going in what it was going to be and that the writers were excited to be writing this character, and given the way the season ended last year, having a major character get killed off, I think that was their game plan going in, to introduce this wild card whose story could only really end one way. I was really happy to play that arc out.
Was there a scene or a moment when you read it in the script, you were shocked was in there?
They’re all pretty shocking. I just expected that when I picked up the script, I’d be doing something nuts. But when [creator] Terence Winter and [director] Tim Van Patten came to my trailer and asked me how I felt about autoerotic asphyxiation, that was the one time I was like, “What do you mean? Personally…?” But I thought about it, had never seen it before, and decided it made sense.
How long did you have to work on your Steve Buscemi/Nucky Thompson impression?
I’m sort of a natural mimic anyway. I mimic my friends all the time, I’ve known Steve a long time, and I’ve certainly never done it in a mean spirited way. *Breaks into perfect Buscemi impression* But if I’m telling a story about Steve, I just start talking like him *goes back to normal voice*, so it wasn’t really hard for me because I enjoy doing it.
He has the best hair.
Sam wasn’t able to stop to answer questions, which is a shame; I really need to know, “How did you become the world’s greatest dancer?”
Reminder: Michael Shannon is in a band.

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