Big Gay Following: Bobby Cannavale

He might be best known to gay audiences for his Emmy-winning role as Will’s first serious boyfriend, cop Vince D’Angelo, on Will & Grace, but Bobby Cannavale’s résumé is bedazzled with butch yet queer credits.

BY Brandon Voss

October 04 2007 11:00 PM ET

You’ve become a go-to guy for butch gay roles, like the closet cases you played in The Guru [2002] and Shall We Dance? [2004]. Have you ever been asked to fem it up?
Ironically enough, the only time I’ve ever had a director tell me something like that was in The Most Fabulous Story — in the opposite way. I was very nervous — in a Paul Rudnick play, every other character was so over-the-top, so I felt I needed to be in that group, when I really needed to be the opposite. That was a huge lesson for me: You can be perfectly butch, but if the part’s written well — like Vince in Will & Grace — we get it.

But you did get to queen out as a gay drug dealer on Oz.
Well, I came up with that character. I ran into [creator] Tom Fontana, who was like, “Hey, man, you gotta come on Oz before we finish up.” I happened to be reading Disco Bloodbath by James St. James because I had worked at the Tunnel years earlier and was kind of fascinated by [club owner] Peter Gatien, so I was deep into it when I started thinking about this character. I had this idea to combine a Michael Alig/James St. James type with Peter Gatien, so he could come in and run the show — with one eye like Gatien, but I don’t think anybody got that but me.

When you played Vince, did you receive letters from gay cops that you inspired to come out?
I’m going to tell you something that’s going to come off really awful. Hopefully this is going well, and you won’t think I’m a total douche bag. I get a lot of mail, but I don’t read it. I know that’s fucked up, but you know what? I don’t need to read a bunch of letters telling me how great I am, the same way I don’t need to have my Emmy in my apartment. That’s why it’s at my mother’s. I don’t need to wake up and see that shit every day and go, “I’m the best!”

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