Bobby Cannavale was a devout altar boy—until he became a gangster. At 9, Cannavale was cast as a tough in his Union City, N.J., church's production of Guys and Dolls. Ever since, "I've never not worked as an actor," says Cannavale, now 34. "But I just started getting paid, like, six years ago." Now he's having a banner year: Along with starting his second season as Will's boyfriend on Will & Grace
, he stars in Shall We Dance?
as a ball room-dancing novice tutored by Jennifer Lopez
. He spent weeks in dance rehearsals. "My mom's side of the family, which is Cuban, is very rhythmic," he says. "But my dad's side is Italian, and they have no rhythm whatsoever! I meet right in the middle." Cannavale performed in "off-off-off-off" Broadway shows before landing a two-year stint on the TV drama Third Watch
in 1999. He guest-starred in series from Ally McBeal
and earned accolades for last year's hit indie movie The Station Agent
. While his characters have ranged from garrulous hot dog vendor to gay cop, his diverse choices are "not weird to me," says Cannavale, who has been stepping out with actress Annabella Sciorra, 40 (he was separated last year from wife Jenny Lumet, 37, the daughter of director Sidney Lumet; their son Jake is 9). "I mean, I'm from New York. You gotta be really freaky to make me blush."