Nine Perfect Strangers, set to be released August 18 on Hulu, is an ensemble miniseries with a mystery at its center. When nine strangers – whether they’re perfect strangers or not the series will leave you to uncover – spend ten days at a wellness resort together, they don’t expect how much they’ll have to look outside themselves for answers.
Bobby Cannavale, who plays the grouchy Tony, spoke to Screen Rant about his character’s misgivings over hostess Masha (Nicole Kidman) and how he lets himself be guided in his own life by Melissa McCarthy.
Screen Rant: Can you talk to me a little bit about Tony, and what attracted you to the character? Why is he at Tranquillum?
Bobby Cannavale: Well, there was a lot I liked about Tony. For one thing, I always wanted to pay a professional athlete. And even though he’s a retired professional athlete, I knew there [would] be scenes of me carrying the rock, that was interesting to me. Melissa was the one that initially brought it up to me. She sent me a text saying, “You should read this,” and I always listen to her.
I thought it was interesting to play a guy who voluntarily is at this wellness institute and spends most of his time trying to just not be there. I thought that was an interesting dichotomy to play. When really looking at it, I just thought the guy is at the end of his rope. He’s pretty close to the end of his rope, and I thought it’d be an interesting place to explore a bit – and to see why this guy is there. It ended up being a really interesting journey for me.
There’s almost a duality to the character of Tony. Tony is the self-proclaimed asshole of the group, and from the jump, he doesn’t get along with Francis, played by Melissa McCarthy. Can you talk to me about reteaming with Melissa, and how we see Francis and Tony’s relationship progress throughout the show?
Bobby Cannavale: When Melissa brought it up to me, she said, “Hey, I don’t think we’ve done this before. This is really different.” And I think what she was getting at [was] that these characters [are] the classic trope of, “These people are never going to get along,” and then they find out they have more in common than they knew.
I think that while that’s true, in a general sense – they’re both really, really sad characters. Melissa is somebody who we think of as being very funny, and yet I also consider her to be one of our great actresses, period. I thought it would be really interesting to see how Melissa was gonna peel that onion back, and I just knew it was going to be different.
And then, of course, the writing supported it so well. David [E. Kelley]’s so good at writing opposites attract kind of material like that. And it’s Melissa McCarthy, man. I’ll work with her any time because it’s never going to be the same thing that I did with her the last time. She’s just so gifted.
How does Tony feel about the mysterious Masha, played by Nicole Kidman?
Bobby Cannavale: Listen, I don’t think it’s any secret. Tony doesn’t mince words. Tony thinks she’s full of it, and it takes him a long time to really submit to her – although something is happening to him.
Without revealing too much, he has a moment with her very, very early on the first day, and she kind of looks through him and sees him. I think that frightens him, and I think it’s what keeps him coming back for more. And I think little by little, we figure out what that is that she possesses and why she’s so good at what she does.
Nine Perfect Strangers premieres on Hulu on August 18.