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Bobby Cannavale Says He Was Deeply Moved by Ezra’s Storyline FSalinks

Talking with Bobby Cannavale, you immediately sense a passionate mix of excitement and seriousness emanating from the man. You see, the two-time Emmy winner (Will & Grace, Boardwalk Empire) wants us to understand his acting process, but more so, why his latest project, Ezra, is such a rare gem. The uplifting new comedy-drama, directed by Tony Goldwyn (Scandal), tracks a struggling stand-up comic co-parenting his neurodivergent son, played by newcomer William Fitzgerald. Cannavale’s character, Max, is pushed to the edge and, in a desperate attempt to protect him, he abducts his son and the two embark on a cross-country road trip.

From the get-go, Cannavale deeply immersed himself in the script written by Tony Spiridakis, whose own experiences with his autistic son inspired Ezra. “Bobby prepares a lot,” Cannavale’s costar in the film and real-life partner, Rose Byrne, told MovieWeb. “He’s really about prep. He and [director] Tony Goldwyn were talking for many many weeks beforehand… always about the script.”

It’s a stand-out effort, in fact, and thanks to a strong ensemble cast (Robert De Niro, Vera Farmiga, Rainn Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg), Ezra explores life’s complexities with a rare blend of humor, compassion, and heart. Bobby Cannavale opened up more about the production in excerpts from this exclusive MovieWeb interview. Read on or dive into the video above.

Ezra (2023)

Ezra follows Max Bernal (Bobby Cannavale), a stand-up comedian living with his father (Robert De Niro), while struggling to co-parent his autistic son Ezra (introducing William Fitzgerald) with his ex-wife, Jenna (Rose Byrne). When forced to confront difficult decisions about their son’s future, Max and Ezra embark on a cross-country road trip that has a transcendent impact on both their lives.

Release Date
May 31, 2024

1h 40m

Tony Spiridakis

The Search for Ezra

Robert De Niro and Bobby Cannavale in Ezra
Bleecker Street

This wouldn’t be the first time Bobby Cannavale has taken on a deeply layered and emotional role. He turned heads as gangster Gyp Rosetti in Boardwalk Empire, igniting the Internet with one memorable love scene in the process. Years later, in Nine Perfect Strangers, he played Tony, a retired football player and recovering drug addict who found an unlikely ally in Melissa McCarthy’s romance novelist, Frances. As “Ex-Athlete,” he brought something alluring to Blonde, opposite Ana de Armas. Look for him in the upcoming ’80s-era thriller MaXXXine, about a mysterious killer stalking Hollywood starlets.

In Ezra, his character reaches his breaking point. A floundering comic, Max is forced to live with his father (De Niro), while his ex-wife (played by Byrne) seems to be getting on with her life. Their common bond is their 11-year-old autistic son, Ezra.


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“You meet so many people who have a cousin who’s autistic, or a brother or a sister or an uncle who was autistic, and these people started coming into my life, even before I met William [Horberg], the producer of the film,” Cannavale said, adding:

“And then finally the
coup de grâce
, meeting William Fitzgerald, who,
after seeing over 100 kids
— we couldn’t find this kid to play the part — and then I met this little boy.
It was really important for us to cast a neurodivergent actor
, and I learned everything I needed to learn really meeting William.”

How Cannavale’s Young Costar Grounded Him

Bobbt Cannavale in Ezra
Bleecker Street

The duo hit it off instantly, in fact. “The kid has got it all,” Cannavale added of Fitzgerald. “He’s just so honest and present and in the moment and unadulterated, and completely himself at all times. And that’s a really hard thing to do when you’re working on a movie. There are so many people around. There are so many distractions.” He added:

As an actor, I find it really hard to concentrate and focus
. I tend to be drawn by shiny objects… it’s a challenge for me.
And I learned so much just working with this kid
. I still think about him and how calming a presence he is, and really how easy it is for him to be in the room. I found it to be really inspiring.”

Ezra moves along swiftly, thanks to the shrewd skills of director Tony Goldwyn (Scandal) and film editor Sabine Hoffman. Some whimsy kicks in once Max and Ezra embark on their cross-country road trip, but ultimately that will have a huge impact on both their lives.

Creating a Believable Complex Character

Rose Byrne in Ezra
Bleecker Street

One of the more interesting takeaways from Ezra is that Max must realize that his son’s neurodivergence isn’t something he needs to “fix,” but something he can embrace. But that would require him to relax enough to truly connect with his son. Yes, there’s a broader universal message in that for audiences.


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“I wanted [Max’s] way with his son to be no different from with anybody else in his life,” Cannavale explained when asked about shaping his character. “I wanted him to be honest with his son. I wanted him to pull no punches. I decided that that is the way he chose to parent — that there was no difference between the way he spoke to the club owner or the other comedians than the way he spoke to his own son. There was a uniqueness to that relationship that I found refreshing and something that I’m not used to seeing a lot of.” He continued:

“I wanted to find this guy at a place in his life where he was really racked by inner turmoil yet was able to share it with an audience in a way that was at times dangerous… because we can’t tell if he’s trying to be funny or not [as a comic on stage].
There’s something really on the edge about that kind of comedy that I find really exciting and admirable



Rose Byrne & Tony Goldwyn on Why the World Needs the New Movie Ezra

Rose Byrne chats with Ezra’s director about working with her husband Bobby Cannavale and the necessity of this powerful movie.

Cannavale received the script about a year before shooting began, noting that he “did a lot of work on that script with Tony, the two Tonys. Tony Spiridakis, who wrote the script… it’s a very personal story for him, his journey with his autistic son, Dmitry. The two Tonys have been best friends for 40 years, so I had a great resource there. And so, you know, I have two sons of my own…” Cannavale added that in Max he wanted to “create an empathetic character. Hopefully we’ve succeeded.”

Spoiler: He did. See it for yourself when Ezra, from Bleecker Street, opens in theaters May 31. Watch the trailer below.

#Bobby #Cannavale #Deeply #Moved #Ezras #Storyline

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