Joe Pantoliano

Last updated

Joe Pantoliano
JoePantolianoFeb2009 (cropped).jpg
Pantoliano at the Hudson Union Society event in 2009
Joseph Peter Pantoliano

(1951-09-12) September 12, 1951 (age 71)
Other namesJoey Pants
Years active1974–present
  • Morgan Kester
    (m. 1979;div. 1985)
  • Nancy Sheppard
    (m. 1994)
Awards Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
2003 The Sopranos

Joseph Peter Pantoliano (born September 12, 1951) [1] is an American character actor who has appeared in over 150 films, television and stage productions. [2] [3]


After his early roles in the television series M*A*S*H and the 1983 comedy Risky Business , he gained recognition for his numerous supporting roles in high-profile films and television series; including Hill Street Blues , The Goonies , La Bamba , Empire of the Sun , The Fugitive , NYPD Blue , Memento , and Bad Boys and its sequels. He starred as Caesar in the Wachowskis' directorial debut Bound and played Cypher in their second film The Matrix (1999) and Michael Gorski in their Netflix series, Sense8 (2015–2018). His role as Ralph Cifaretto on the HBO crime drama The Sopranos won him the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Pantoliano is a published author and is active in the field of mental health, having documented his mother's issues and his own. He founded the nonprofit No Kidding, Me Too! dedicated to removing the stigma from mental illness. [4]

Early life and education

Pantoliano was born on September 12, 1951, in Hoboken, New Jersey, the son of Italian-American parents Mary (née Centrella), a bookie and seamstress, and Dominic "Monk" Pantoliano, a hearse driver and factory foreman. [5] [6] [7] Pantoliano's family moved to Cliffside Park, New Jersey, where he attended Cliffside Park High School. [8]

He attended HB Studio, and studied extensively with actors John Lehne and Herbert Berghof. [9]


Pantoliano aboard USS John F. Kennedy during Fleet Week, 2005 JoePantolianonavy.jpg
Pantoliano aboard USS John F. Kennedy during Fleet Week, 2005

He first grew to fame as "Guido the Killer Pimp" in 1983's Risky Business . In 1985 he appeared as the villainous Francis Fratelli in teen classic The Goonies . He gained fame among a new generation as Cypher in the 1999 landmark sci-fi film The Matrix . He won a Primetime Emmy Award as Ralph Cifaretto in HBO's The Sopranos .

Pantoliano is also known for his role as Eddie Moscone, the foul-mouthed, double-crossing bail bondsman, in the Robert De Niro comedy Midnight Run , as Captain Conrad Howard in Bad Boys and its sequels Bad Boys II and Bad Boys for Life , as double-crossed mafioso Caesar in Bound , as John "Teddy" Gammell in Memento , and as investigative journalist Ben Urich in Mark Steven Johnson's 2003 Daredevil adaptation. He played Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro in The Fugitive along with Tommy Lee Jones and reprised the role in the sequel U.S. Marshals .

In 2003 Pantoliano replaced Stanley Tucci in the Broadway play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune . That same year he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for The Sopranos. [10]

In 2012 Pantoliano starred as the eccentric pawn broker Oswald Oswald in the film adaptation of Wendy Mass's popular children's book Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life , written and directed by Tamar Halpern. [11] In 2013, he was cast as Yogi Berra in the Broadway production of Bronx Bombers , [12] but dropped out during rehearsals due to "creative differences." [13] From 2015–2018 he played Michael Gorski in the Watchowski sisters' Netflix series, Sense8.

When not acting, Pantoliano writes. He is the author of two memoirs: Who's Sorry Now: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy, and Asylum: Hollywood Tales From My Great Depression: Brain Dis-Ease, Recovery and Being My Mother's Son. In the latter, he writes about his addictions to alcohol, food, sex, Vicodin, and Percocet, before being diagnosed with clinical depression. [14]

Personal life

Pantoliano and his wife Nancy Sheppard, a former model, have four children. [15] He was introduced to his wife by his friend, actress Samantha Phillips. [16]

On October 9, 2007, Pantoliano announced on the National Alliance on Mental Illness blog that he had been suffering from clinical depression for the last decade, although he was only formally diagnosed recently. He claims that his 2006 film Canvas helped him come to terms with his depression. [17] Rather than hide his illness from the public, he has chosen to speak out about it to remove some of the stigmas commonly associated with mental illness. He founded a nonprofit organization, No Kidding, Me Too!, [18] to unite members of the entertainment industry in educating the public about mental illness. The title comes from the response he has frequently heard after divulging how mental illness affected him and his family. In 2009, he directed, wrote, and starred in his first documentary called NO KIDDING! ME 2!! [19] He also has dyslexia.

After a Sopranos episode in which his character brutally beat a young stripper to death, during an interview he stated, "After the episode aired a lot more women started hitting on me. I thought it was very revealing." [20] During his tenure on the show, Pantoliano struggled to stay anonymous in New Jersey. To avoid being recognized by fans he wore a wig based on the hair style of Christopher Nolan, with whom he had worked in Memento. [21]

On May 1, 2020, Pantoliano was struck by a vehicle while walking, and suffered a concussion and chest trauma. [22]



1974Road MovieMuggerCredited as Joseph Pantoliano
For Pete's Sake Undercover CopUncredited[ citation needed ]
1980 The Idolmaker Gino Pilato
1982 Monsignor Private Joe Musso
1983 The Final Terror Eggar Buelton
Risky Business Guido
Eddie and the Cruisers "Doc" Robbins
1985 The Mean Season Andy Porter
The Goonies Francis Fratelli
1986 Running Scared "Snake"
1987 Scenes from the Goldmine Manny Ricci
La Bamba Bob Keane
The Squeeze Norman
Amazon Women on the Moon Sy SwerdlowSegment: "Hairlooming"
Empire of the Sun Frank Demarest
1988 The in Crowd Perry Parker
Midnight Run Eddie Moscone
1990Ardouous MoonUnknownShort film
Downtown White
Blue Heat Wayne Gross
Short Time Scalese
Backstreet Dreams Paul AntangeliUncredited
1991 Zandalee Gerri
1992 Used People Frank
1993 Three of Hearts Mickey
The Fugitive Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro
Calendar Girl Harvey Darpinian
Me and the Kid Roy
1994 Robot in the Family The Father
Teresa's Tattoo Bruno
Baby's Day Out Norbert "Norby" LeBlaw
1995 Bad Boys Captain Conrad Howard
Congo Eddie VentroUncredited
The Last Word Doc
Steal Big Steal Little Eddie Agopian, Ruben's Lawyer
The Immortals Pete Tunnell
1996The Flight of the DoveAttorney Brezner
Bound Caesar
1997 Top of the World Vince Castor
Aliens AttackCaptain Nevins
Natural Enemy StuartDirect-to-video
1998 U.S. Marshals Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro
HoodsCharlie Flynn
Taxman Al Benjamin
1999 Forces of Nature Cab DriverUncredited cameo[ citation needed ]
The Matrix Cypher / Mr. Reagan
Black and White Bill King
The Life Before This Jake MacLean
New Blood Hellman
2000 Ready to Rumble Titus Sinclair
Memento James Edward "Teddy" Gammell
A Better Way to Die"Flash"
2001 Cats & Dogs Peek (voice)
2002A Call for HelpCharlie
The Adventures of Pluto Nash Mogan
2003 Daredevil Ben Urich
Bad Boys II Captain Conrad Howard
Silver ManNorbert
2004Second BestElliot
Perfect OppositesLouis Carbonelli
The Easter Egg AdventureTerrible Timothy Takit (voice)
2005 Racing Stripes Goose (voice)
The Check UpThe InspectorShort film
The Amateurs Some Idiot
2006 Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector Mayor Maurice T. Gunn
Wedding Daze Smitty
Canvas John Marino
Unknown Bound Man / Brockman
2007Spring Break '83Sergeant ColtraneUnreleased
2009 The Job Perriman
Deadly Impact David Kaplow
Falling Up George
2010The Legend of Secret PassChucksta (voice)
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Gabe Ugliano
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Peek (voice)
New York Street Games HimselfDocumentary
2011 Loosies Carl
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of LifeOswald Oswald III
2014 The Identical Avi Hirshberg
2016 The Perfect Match Marty
2017 Just Getting Started Joey
2018 Happy Anniversary Aldo
Feast of the Seven Fishes Uncle Frankie
The Brawler Al Braverman
2019 From the Vine Marco Gentile
2020 Bad Boys for Life Captain Conrad Howard
2021 Hide and Seek Collin Carmichael


1977McNamara's BandFrankie MilanoTelevision film
1978 Free Country Louis Peschi3 episodes
1979 From Here to Eternity Private Angelo Maggio3 episodes
1980 Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story Ray NealTelevision film
1981–1984 Hart to Hart Frank Tisdale / Nate Volkman2 episodes
1981 M*A*S*H Corporal Gerald Mullen / Josh LevinEpisode: "Identity Crisis"
1982 Chicago Story CooneyEpisode: "Who Needs the Truth?"
1983 Hardcastle and McCormick Teddy HollinsEpisode: "The Crystal Duck"
1984 Mister Roberts InsigniaTelevision film
Hill Street Blues Sonny Orsini2 episodes
Trapper John, M.D. Michael MerrowEpisode: "Where There's a Will"
Simon & Simon CarlEpisode: "Who Killed the Sixties?"
1985 Robert Kennedy & His Times Roy Cohn Episode #1.1
1986 Amazing Stories JoeEpisode: "One for the Road"
L.A. Law Rob CavanaughEpisode: "Pilot"
1987Destination AmericaLieutenant Mike AmicoTelevision film
1987 Beverly Hills Buntz Jimmy MontaigneEpisode: "Pilot"
1988Rock 'n' Roll MomRonnieTelevision film
1989 Nightbreaker Sergeant Jack RussellTelevision film
The Hitchhiker Brother CharlesEpisode: "Miracle of Alice Ames"
Tales from the Crypt Ulrich The UndyingEpisode: "Dig That cat...He's real gone"
1990El Diablo"Kid" DurangoTelevision film
1990–1991 The Fanelli Boys Dominic Fanelli19 episodes
1991One Special VictoryDanielTelevision film
1992 Through the Eyes of a Killer JerryTelevision film
Highlander: The Series Dr. WilderEpisode: "Deadly Medicine"
1994Dangerous HeartBarclayTelevision film
Beethoven Sparky (voice)12 episodes
1995 The Marshal CamerisEpisode: "Unprotected Witness"
NYPD Blue Vinnie Greco3 episodes
1996Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: IceDetective Meyer MeyerTelevision film
Life with Louie Jojo Stomopolous (voice)Episode: "Caddy on a Hot Tin Roof"
Arliss Vic FreedEpisode: "The Client's Best Interest"
1996–1997 EZ Streets Jimmy Murtha12 episodes
1998–2000 Godzilla: The Series Victor "Animal" Palotti (voice)8 episodes
1998 Hercules King Pan (voice)Episode: "Hercules and the King for a Day"
The Lionhearts Director (voice)5 episodes
1999 Sugar Hill JoePilot
The Outer Limits Stan HarbingerEpisode: "Alien Radio"
Olive, the Other Reindeer Martini (voice)Television special
2001–2004 The Sopranos Ralph Cifaretto 21 episodes
2001 Roswell Kal Langley2 episodes
2002 The Nick Cannon Show Himself2 episodes
2003–2004 The Handler Joe Renato16 episodes
2003 Gary the Rat Anthony "The Heel" Stilletto (voice)Episode: "Sleeps with the Fishes"
2004 Dr. Vegas Tommy Danko7 episodes
2006DeceitAnthonyTelevision film
WaterfrontJimmy CentrellaUnreleased series
The Simpsons Dante (voice)Episode: "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer"
2011 How to Make it in America Felix DiFlorio2 episodes
2014More Time with FamilyStan RizzoPilot
2015 Deadbeat Famous ActorEpisode: "The Emancipation Apparition"
2015–2017 Sense8 Michael GorskiUncredited
5 episodes
2017 SpongeBob SquarePants Stickyfins Whiting (voice)Episode: "The Getaway"
2018 Lake Placid: Legacy HendersonTelevision film
2020 Tacoma FD Eddie Penisi Sr.Episode: "I'm Eddie Penisi...Sr"
2020–2021 MacGyver Eric Andrews2 episodes
2021The Santa StakeoutFrancis MillerTelevision film
2022 Chucky HimselfEpisode: "Death on Denial" [23]

Video games

2001 Majestic Tim PritchardEpisode 4
Grand Theft Auto III Luigi Goterelli
2013 Call of Duty: Black Ops II Albert "Weasel" ArlingtonMob of the Dead expansion
2021 Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition Luigi GoterelliArchival Recordings
Remaster of Grand Theft Auto III only

Awards and nominations

YearAssociationCategoryNominated workResult
1997 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor Bound Nominated
Television Critics Association Individual Achievement in Drama EZ Streets Nominated
Viewers for Quality Television Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesNominated
2002 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series The Sopranos Nominated
2003 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Won
2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated


Related Research Articles

<i>The Goonies</i> 1985 American film by Richard Donner

The Goonies is a 1985 American adventure comedy film co-produced and directed by Richard Donner from a screenplay by Chris Columbus, based on a story by Steven Spielberg. In the film, kids who live in the "Goon Docks" neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon, attempt to save their homes from foreclosure and, in doing so, they discover an old treasure map that takes them on an adventure to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy, a legendary 17th-century pirate. During the adventure, they are chased by a family of criminals who want the treasure for themselves.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">55th Primetime Emmy Awards</span> Prime time Emmy Awards of 2003

The 55th Primetime Emmy Awards were held on Sunday, September 21, 2003. The ceremony was broadcast on Fox. The Sci Fi channel received its first major nomination this year for Outstanding Miniseries for Taken; the series won the award.

<i>Memento</i> (film) 2000 American film by Christopher Nolan

Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir mystery thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and produced by Suzanne and Jennifer Todd. The film's script was based on a pitch by Nolan's brother Jonathan Nolan, who wrote the 2001 story "Memento Mori" from the concept. Guy Pearce stars as Leonard Shelby, a man who suffers from anterograde amnesia, resulting in short-term memory loss and the inability to form new memories. He is searching for the people who attacked him and killed his wife, using an intricate system of Polaroid photographs and tattoos to track information he cannot remember. Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano were the co-stars of the film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ned Eisenberg</span> American actor (1957–2022)

Ned Eisenberg was an American actor known for his recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Roger Kressler.

Joe Wicks (<i>EastEnders</i>) Fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders

Joe Wicks is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Paul Nicholls. He appears on screen between 25 March 1996 and 14 November 1997. EastEnders was praised for the character's portrayal of schizophrenia.

"Proshai, Livushka" is the 28th episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the second of the show's third season. It was written by David Chase and directed by Tim Van Patten, and originally aired on March 4, 2001.

"Fortunate Son" is the 29th episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the third of the show's third season. It was written by Todd A. Kessler and directed by Henry J. Bronchtein, and originally aired on March 11, 2001.

"University" is the 32nd episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the sixth of the show's third season. The teleplay was written by Terence Winter and Salvatore J. Stabile from a story idea by David Chase, Terence Winter, Todd A. Kessler, Robin Green, and Mitchell Burgess. It was directed by Allen Coulter and originally aired on April 1, 2001.

"The Telltale Moozadell" is the 35th episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the ninth of the show's third season. It was written by Michael Imperioli and directed by Dan Attias, and originally aired on April 22, 2001.

"Amour Fou" is the 38th episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the 12th of the show's third season. Its teleplay was written by Frank Renzulli from a story idea by series creator, David Chase. It was directed by Tim Van Patten and originally aired on May 13, 2001.

"Christopher" is the 42nd episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the third episode of the show's fourth season. Its teleplay was written by Michael Imperioli, from a story idea by Imperioli and Maria Laurino. It was directed by Tim Van Patten and originally aired on September 29, 2002.

"The Weight" is the 43rd episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the fourth episode of the show's fourth season. Written by Terence Winter and directed by Jack Bender, it originally aired on October 6, 2002. This episode marks the halfway point of the series.

"Calling All Cars" is the 50th episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the 11th of the show's fourth season. Written by David Chase, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess, and David Flebotte from a story by Chase, Green, Burgess, and Terence Winter, it was directed by Tim Van Patten and originally aired on November 24, 2002.

"Pie-O-My" is the 44th episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the fifth of the show's fourth season. Written by Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, and directed by Henry J. Bronchtein, it originally aired on October 13, 2002.

"Whoever Did This" is the 48th episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and the ninth of the show's fourth season. Written by Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, and directed by Tim Van Patten, it originally aired on November 10, 2002.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cliffside Park High School</span> High school in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States

Cliffside Park High School is a four-year comprehensive public high school that serves students in ninth through twelfth grade from Cliffside Park, in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States, operating as the lone secondary school of the Cliffside Park School District.

Dan Mackenzie is an American songwriter-producer.

Joseph Greco is a writer, director and producer living in Los Angeles. He wrote & directed the feature film Canvas.

<i>The Sopranos</i> (season 4) Season of The Sopranos

The fourth season of the American crime drama series The Sopranos began airing on HBO on September 15, 2002, and concluded on December 8, 2002, consisting of thirteen episodes. The fourth season was released on DVD in region 1 on October 28, 2003.

Bronx Bombers is a play written by Eric Simonson, and produced by Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, in conjunction with the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball. The play focuses on former Yankee Yogi Berra and his wife, Carmen, as they interact with other Yankees from different eras. It made its Broadway debut on February 6, 2014, and closed on March 2, 2014.


  1. Lee Hirsch; Cynthia Lowen (September 25, 2012). Bully: An Action Plan for Teachers, Parents, and Communities to Combat the Bullying Crisis. Hachette Books. pp. 157–. ISBN   978-1-60286-185-5.
  2. Ebert, Roger (October 11, 2007). "The serious side of Joey Pants". Retrieved April 12, 2020. Consider Joe Pantoliano. Famous for 'The Sopranos,' established as a character actor playing gangster and comic types, known by everyone, including himself, as 'Joey Pants'
  3. Malkin, Marc (October 5, 2018). "Joe Morton, Jessica Walter, Joe Pantoliano to Be Honored at Carney Awards". Variety Media LLC. Retrieved April 12, 2020. Joe Pantoliano...will be honored at this year's Carney Awards. Named in honor of the late Art Carney, the Carney Awards were launched ... to celebrate Hollywood's leading character actors.
  4. "A Tough Guy Battles Back- Joe Pantoliano". International Bipolar Foundation. October 14, 2014. Retrieved April 12, 2020. Inspired by his role in Canvas, Pantoliano created No Kidding, Me Too!, a nonprofit dedicated to removing the stigma associated with mental illness.
  5. Joe Pantoliano Biography,; accessed June 21, 2017.
  6. "SMOKE 09/02 – Joe Pantoliano in the Hot Seat". Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  7. Who's Sorry Now: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy Entertainment Weekly, October 4, 2002
  8. Smith, Ray. "'Hoboken was a very wild community' Actor Joe Pantoliano inspires; honored at the Boys and Girls Club" Archived September 11, 2017, at the Wayback Machine , The Hudson Reporter , December 12, 2010. Accessed September 10, 2017. "Pantoliano and his lifelong friend Rich Pepe have teamed up to create their own pasta sauce (or gravy, depending on your ethnicity) called Pepe and Pants Pasta Sauce, of which 100 percent of the net proceeds are donated to "No Kidding, Me Too!" The two men graduated from Cliffside Park High School together after their families moved from Hoboken.
  9. "Joe Pantoliano". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  10. "Nominees/Winners".
  11. "Reviews".
  12. O'Keeffe, Michael; Toulson, Ja'Pheth; Abbott, Campbell (August 3, 2013). "Joe Pantoliano to play Yogi Berra in Bronx Bombers: "Bronx Bombers examines how baseball's most storied franchise has always remained focused on maintaining a great team, even when dealing with some of the game's most iconic and tempestuous personalities," the producers say in a press release". New York Daily News . Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  13. Hetrick, Adam (September 17, 2013). "Joe Pantoliano Speaks Out Via Twitter and Facebook Following Bronx Bombers Departure". Playbill. Archived from the original on February 26, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  14. "Joe Pantoliano – He Puts the 'Fun' in Dysfunctional". ABILITY Magazine.
  15. All in the Family,; accessed June 24, 2022.
  16. "Friends Setting Up Friends," Archived July 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine; accessed June 21, 2017.
  17. "'No kidding?' Joe Pantoliano was depressed, too". The Mercury News. May 1, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  18. "No Kidding? Me Too! – Stomping the stigma of mental disease".
  19. No Kidding! Me 2!! (2009) – IMDb , retrieved February 4, 2021
  20. Samuel Fly (July 25, 2016). "The Sopranos Inside Story". Archived from the original on December 16, 2019 via YouTube.
  21. "'Sopranos' actor Joe Pantoliano wore a wig based on Christopher Nolan's hair to avoid fans". January 17, 2020.
  22. Henderson, Cydney. "'Sopranos' star Joe Pantoliano suffers 'severe head injury' after being hit by car", USA Today . May 2, 2020. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  23. Perry, Spencer (June 15, 2022). "Chucky Season 2 Adds Gina Gershon, Sutton Stracke, and Joe Pantoliano". ComicBook. Retrieved June 16, 2022.