Bruce MacVittie, the stage and screen actor known for his performances in “American Buffalo,” “The Sopranos,” “Million Dollar Baby” and others over the course of his 40-year career, died May 7 in New York. He was 65.
MacVittie passed away in a Manhattan hospital, although the cause of death has not yet been determined, his wife Carol Ochs confirmed to The New York Times.
From early roles in ’80s shows “The Equalizer” and “The Whoopee Boys” to his first major part in the short-lived Stanley Tucci cop drama “The Street,” MacVittie had a knack for playing tough, streetwise characters in a variety of films and television shows. He would go on to play memorable guest starring roles in prestige series like “The Deuce,” “Sex and the City” and “When They See Us.”
Born Oct. 14, 1956 and raised in Rhode Island, MacVittie’s career took root in the New York theater scene. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Boston University, he moved to New York City. In 1979, he was Al Pacino’s understudy in a revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo”; he would go on to play Bobby on Broadway and in theaters across the country, along with London’s West End.
The following year, he starred in Ensemble Studio Theater’s production of “What’s So Beautiful About a Sunset Over Prairie Avenue?” A few years later, he was one of the founders of a collective for young stage and film performers called “Naked Angels,” which counted Marisa Tomei and Matthew Broderick among its members.
Eventually, he took on a second career as a nurse, earning a Bachelor of Science degree from Hunter College in 2013. After a four-year break, he returned to the screen with guest starring roles in “Blue Bloods,” “Chicago Med,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and Ava DuVernay’s “When They Us,” among others.
In tributes to MacVittie, colleagues and admirers remembered him as a “beautiful” friend and actor. His fellow actor Rob Morrow posted a cheeky memory from their time in Naked Angels on Twitter, writing: “Another of our dear pals have passed; RIP @BruceMacVittie I took this shot of Bruce when we were building out the #NakedAngels space on 17th St. around 1988. I was determined, per the ‘Naked’ in our name, to get a shot of someone naked in the raw space and Bruce volunteered.”
Another of our dear pals have passed; RIP @BruceMacVittie I took this shot of Bruce when we were building out the #NakedAngels space on 17th St. around 1988. I was determined, per the ‘Naked’ in our name, to get a shot of someone naked in the raw space and Bruce volunteered. pic.twitter.com/KT1BT778JT
— Rob Morrow (@RobMorrow_) May 8, 2022
In an interview with The New York Times, Al Pacino said he “loved” MacVittie, adding that “His performances were always glistening and crackling; a heart and a joy to watch. He was the embodiment of the struggling actor in New York City, and he made it work. We will miss him.”
“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” showrunner Warren Leight called MacVittie “the real deal.”
“We’ve worked together often. He was a beautiful, honest actor and man,” he wrote. “The real deal. Sending love to his friends and family.”
I met the great Bruce MacVittie shortly after this. We’ve worked together often. He was a beautiful, honest actor and man. The real deal. Sending love to his friends and family. https://t.co/bP07qWyEaj
— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) May 12, 2022
The writer and actress June Diane Raphael tweeted that “Bruce was the first working actor I knew in NYC. He was so encouraging of me and @caseyrosewilson and I’m so profoundly sorry for his wife and daughter.”
— June Diane Raphael (@MsJuneDiane) May 12, 2022
The most recent of his 93 screen acting credits includes “Call Jane,” the underground abortion drama that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
MacVittie is survived by his daughter Sophia Oliva Ochs MacVittie and second wife Carol Ochs.