Joe Pantoliano

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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)
AwardsPrimetime 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[edit]

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

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[edit]

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]



Year Title Role Notes
1974 Road Movie Mugger Credited as Joseph Pantoliano
For Pete's Sake Undercover Cop Uncredited[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 Swerdlow Segment: "Hairlooming"
Empire of the Sun Frank Demarest
1988 The in Crowd Perry Parker
Midnight Run Eddie Moscone
1990 Ardouous Moon Unknown Short film
Downtown White
Blue Heat Wayne Gross
Short Time Scalese
Backstreet Dreams Paul Antangeli Uncredited
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 Ventro Uncredited
The Last Word Doc
Steal Big Steal Little Eddie Agopian, Ruben's Lawyer
The Immortals Pete Tunnell
1996 The Flight of the Dove Attorney Brezner
Bound Caesar
1997 Top of the World Vince Castor
Aliens Attack Captain Nevins
Tinseltown Arnie
Natural Enemy Stuart Direct-to-video
1998 U.S. Marshals Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro
Hoods Charlie Flynn
Taxman Al Benjamin
1999 Forces of Nature Cab Driver Uncredited 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)
2002 A Call for Help Charlie
The Adventures of Pluto Nash Mogan
2003 Daredevil Ben Urich
Bad Boys II Captain Conrad Howard
Silver Man Norbert
2004 Second Best Elliot
Perfect Opposites Louis Carbonelli
The Easter Egg Adventure Terrible Timothy Takit (voice)
2005 Racing Stripes Goose (voice)
The Check Up The Inspector Short 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
2007 Spring Break '83 Sergeant Coltrane Unreleased
2009 The Job Perriman
Deadly Impact David Kaplow
Falling Up George
2010 The Legend of Secret Pass Chucksta (voice)
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Gabe Ugliano
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Peek (voice)
New York Street Games Himself Documentary
2011 Loosies Carl
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life Oswald 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


Year Title Role Notes
1977 McNamara's Band Frankie Milano Television film
1978 Free Country Louis Peschi 3 episodes
1979 From Here to Eternity Private Angelo Maggio 3 episodes
1980 Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story Ray Neal Television film
1981–1984 Hart to Hart Frank Tisdale / Nate Volkman 2 episodes
1981 M*A*S*H Corporal Gerald Mullen / Josh Levin Episode: "Identity Crisis"
1982 Chicago Story Cooney Episode: "Who Needs the Truth?"
1983 Hardcastle and McCormick Teddy Hollins Episode: "The Crystal Duck"
1984 Mister Roberts Insignia Television film
Hill Street Blues Sonny Orsini 2 episodes
Trapper John, M.D. Michael Merrow Episode: "Where There's a Will"
Simon & Simon Carl Episode: "Who Killed the Sixties?"
1985 Robert Kennedy & His Times Roy Cohn Episode #1.1
1986 Amazing Stories Joe Episode: "One for the Road"
L.A. Law Rob Cavanaugh Episode: "Pilot"
1987 Destination America Lieutenant Mike Amico Television film
1987 Beverly Hills Buntz Jimmy Montaigne Episode: "Pilot"
1988 Rock 'n' Roll Mom Ronnie Television film
1989 Nightbreaker Sergeant Jack Russell Television film
The Hitchhiker Brother Charles Episode: "Miracle of Alice Ames"
Tales from the Crypt Ulrich The Undying Episode: "Dig That cat...He's real gone"
1990 El Diablo "Kid" Durango Television film
1990–1991 The Fanelli Boys Dominic Fanelli 19 episodes
1991 One Special Victory Daniel Television film
1992 Through the Eyes of a Killer Jerry Television film
Highlander: The Series Dr. Wilder Episode: "Deadly Medicine"
1994 Dangerous Heart Barclay Television film
Beethoven Sparky (voice) 12 episodes
1995 The Marshal Cameris Episode: "Unprotected Witness"
NYPD Blue Vinnie Greco 3 episodes
1996 Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Ice Detective Meyer Meyer Television film
Life with Louie Jojo Stomopolous (voice) Episode: "Caddy on a Hot Tin Roof"
Arliss Vic Freed Episode: "The Client's Best Interest"
1996–1997 EZ Streets Jimmy Murtha 12 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 Joe Pilot
The Outer Limits Stan Harbinger Episode: "Alien Radio"
Olive, the Other Reindeer Martini (voice) Television special
2001–2004 The Sopranos Ralph Cifaretto 21 episodes
2001 Roswell Kal Langley 2 episodes
2002 The Nick Cannon Show Himself 2 episodes
2003–2004 The Handler Joe Renato 16 episodes
2003 Gary the Rat Anthony "The Heel" Stilletto (voice) Episode: "Sleeps with the Fishes"
2004 Dr. Vegas Tommy Danko 7 episodes
2006 Deceit Anthony Television film
Waterfront Jimmy Centrella Unreleased series
The Simpsons Dante (voice) Episode: "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer"
2011 How to Make it in America Felix DiFlorio 2 episodes
2014 More Time with Family Stan Rizzo Pilot
2015 Deadbeat Famous Actor Episode: "The Emancipation Apparition"
2015–2017 Sense8 Michael Gorski Uncredited
5 episodes
2017 SpongeBob SquarePants Stickyfins Whiting (voice) Episode: "The Getaway"
2018 Lake Placid: Legacy Henderson Television film
2020 Tacoma FD Eddie Penisi Sr. Episode: "I'm Eddie Penisi...Sr"
2020–2021 MacGyver Eric Andrews 2 episodes
2021 The Santa Stakeout Francis Miller Television film
2022 Chucky [23]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Character
2001 Majestic Tim Pritchard Episode 4
Grand Theft Auto III Luigi Goterelli
2013 Call of Duty: Black Ops II Albert "Weasel" Arlington Mob of the Dead expansion
2021 Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition Luigi Goterelli Archival Recordings
Remaster of Grand Theft Auto III only

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
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 Series Nominated
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


  • Who's Sorry Now: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy, Joe Pantoliano, David Evanier, Dutton Books (2002), ISBN 978-0525946779
  • Asylum, Joe Pantoliano, Hachette Books (2013), ISBN 978-1602861992


  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.

External links[edit]