Acting Comes Naturally For Bull's Annabelle Attanasio

On CBS' new legal drama Bull, newcomer Annabelle Attanasio nails her starring role.
Posted on Dec 6, 2016 | 07:00am
Annabelle Attanasio—"Annie" to family and friends—was four years old when her mother enrolled her in a musical theater class to help overcome her shyness. One year later, Annie was starring as Annie, the eponymous character in an L.A. production of the musical.
The daughter of Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Paul Attanasio (Quiz Show) and Katie Jacobs, who with her husband created and produced television shows such as House and Gideon’s Crossing, Annie never doubted her early commitment to her craft. "I re-read my journals as a child and I always wanted to be an actor and writer and singer and dancer," the 23-year-old remembers, before adding with a laugh, "Turns out I am not a gifted singer or dancer."

Modesty aside, Attanasio has both preternatural talent and the luck of being recognized for it. She left L.A. to attend college at New York University, where she began writing, directing, and starring in short films and plays. Following graduation, she started working as an actor without pause, jumping from Steven Soderbergh's The Knick to her current role on Bull, the new drama starring Michael Weatherly (NCIS) as a brilliant trial consultant. Attanasio plays Cable McCrory, a tech prodigy who is as at ease cracking jokes as she is cracking codes.
The actress spoke to Watch! near her home in Brooklyn, New York, about her developing fame and constant good fortune.
Your father is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter and your mother is a producer. How did that influence you growing up?
I'm in awe of them and I was always so ready to do what they were doing. I didn't want to be in elementary school; I wanted to be on film sets with my parents. It was like, "Why can't I do that already?" When I was 15, I tried to move to New York, which I'd loved forever, but my parents made me finish high school. I'm grateful to them for forcing sense into me.
What did you think about your character, Cable, when you read the pilot?
I loved her so much. Rarely do you see a character who could be played by a man as well. Cable's extremely technically proficient. She's a genius with a confidence that borders on arrogance, but I think that comes from not wanting to be discounted for being significantly younger than everyone else and a woman as well. She's both guarded and nosy—she'll ask questions and make assertive comments without telling you anything about herself. When I first read her name I thought, "Maybe this is an identity she put on." [laughing] I think she probably has a name like Sophia or Nicole or something really girlie and she changed it.
What traits do you and Cable have in common?
She has a very tough exterior, and she's someone who is going to prove you wrong when she is second-guessed. I'm personally less vocal but I have the same trait where I will diplomatically nod and then quietly prove you wrong. Also, Cable's from a different generation than her co-workers and thinks her co-workers are archaic in their views. She's very outspoken.
Cable is younger than the people she works with, as are you. What’s that like for you on set?
Michael Weatherly is one of the warmest, most encouraging people as a leader, and he's quick to laugh. The other cast members are the same. We all want to make each other look good and we all laugh at ourselves. I count my blessings.
How do you see Cable developing this season?
I think eventually some of her toughness will wear off as it does for anyone, because no one can keep a lid on it all the time. She's someone who never lets anyone see her cry or sweat. I can’t wait to see what happens.
Is she going to have a fabulous love life?
I hope she will! I think part of what bonds these six people is the fulfillment of their jobs, and at the same time they go to work to forget about their personal lives and the negative things. We all probably have a lot of very angry significant others wondering why we are never home. 
What does your home life look like?
I live with two roommates. I've just moved in with them, but we've been friends for a long time and it's lovely to come home to their faces when we all happen to be there. Acting is collaborative, but it's also a bit of a solitary thing so it's nice to come home to friends.
When you have a day off, what are you doing?
Writing, constantly, or reading. I am in development with my first feature right now. And I am in the festival process with my latest short.
What gives you more pleasure—writing or acting?
Writing has mellowed me out from the anxiety that comes with being an actor. I couldn't sustain being an actor if I weren't a writer and director, too. But being on set with the Bull cast is always so creative, so spontaneous, and never boring. 
By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh | Photography by Mary Ellen Matthews
Originally published in Watch! Magazine, December 2016
Watch Bull on Tuesdays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.