James Cusati-Moyer and Julia Garner in 'Inventing Anna'

Here's Why You Might Recognize Val From Inventing Anna

This is one of his bigger roles, but he's been in a lot.

by Ani Bundel

Inventing Anna is the first of a slew of coming series based on real-life people who pulled cons on the unsuspecting people around them. But unlike Hulu’s The Dropout or AppleTV+’s WeCrashed, just about everyone around Anna is invented, from the fictionalized reporter crashing the story to the marks who fell for her grift. Of those characters, the most sympathetic is Val, who learns the price of Anna’s friendship the hard way. But James Cusati-Moyer, who plays Val on Inventing Anna, may look familiar to viewers. That’s not because he’s playing someone from real life, but because he’s been in tons of stuff leading up to it.

In Inventing Anna, Cusati-Moyer’s Val is a high-end fashion designer who is immediately taken in by Anna’s act. (The character is a heavily fictionalized substitute for Delvey’s real-life NYC BFF, art collector Michael Xufu Huang.) Val insists Anna's lack of stylish, expensive clothing is proof of just how rich she is, even as she subtly negs him into dressing her better. Her cooler-than-thou attitude also easily preys on his insecurities, and soon he’s practically competing to be part of her innermost circle.

Cusati-Moyer plays a believable New York artist about town partly because he is in real life, though as a theater and Broadway actor rather than a fashionista. He’s been working his way up from background characters in TV series since 2015’s Blue Bloods. His first breakthrough role on TV happened to be on a Netflix series, in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, where he played Lagerfeld Minion. Most of his TV series work has been as part of streaming series, including Hulu’s The Path and Amazon Studios’ coming-of-age series Red Oaks, plus the time-travel science-fiction series Time After Time.

But it was landing a role in the 2017 Broadway production of Six Degrees of Separation that made Cusati-Moyer a known face in the New York scene and helped him step up to an Instagram personality and social media figure. It also led to several more roles, including the World Premiere of Terrence McNally’s Fire and Air and the acclaimed production of The Devil in The Soldier’s Tale at Carnegie Hall. His most recent live theater role was in the Off-Broadway hit Slave Play that the New York Theatre Workshop staged. As one of the most controversial and challenging shows to open in New York before the 2020 shutdown, it became the most Tony-nominated play in history.

Since the shutdown, Cusati-Moyer moved to film, with a minor role in A24’s False Positive in 2021 and Fox’s critical darling Prodigal Son. But the significant level-up is coming this summer, with a role in the DC superhero film Black Adam, where he stars alongside Dwyane “Mr. The Rock” Johnson, Pierce Brosnan, and Noah Centineo.

All episodes of Inventing Anna are streaming on Netflix. Black Adam debuts exclusively in theaters on July 29, 2022.