4 Takeaways From Joe Pantoliano’s “The Originals” Interview

The veteran actor recalls sparring with Rosie Perez on Broadway, gazing upon Tom Cruise’s nose, and a penetrating scene from ”The Sopranos”
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Emmy-winner Joe Pantoliano welcomed host Andrew Goldman into his Connecticut home to record the Season 4 premiere of The Originals—which happens to have just won the 2022 Folio magazine’s Eddie Award for Best City or Regional Magazine Podcast. In the episode, subtitled “Who’s my daddy?; Stealing shirts and killing hoo-as with style,” Hoboken’s second favorite son (after Frank Sinatra) discusses his early career nose job, how to negotiate sequel contracts, and why he’d rather dig ditches than appear on Broadway again. 

Here are four takeaways from the hilarious, shocking, and often poignant interview.

Don’t expect to see Joey Pants’ name on a marquee alongside Rosie Perez’s anytime soon. When Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci played the titular roles in the 2002 Broadway revival of Terrance McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, they fell in love. Pantoliano and Rosie Perez took over the same roles with different results. “I like to say that play either inspires people to wind up f—ing each other or wanting to f—ing kill each other,” Pantoliano says. “Rosie and I get along now, but we pushed each other’s buttons. It was pretty bad.”

Tom Cruise is indirectly responsible for his early-career rhinoplasty. Pantoliano’s breakout movie role as Guido The Killer Pimp came in the same film that made Tom Cruise famous, 1983’s Risky Business. When Pantoliano first screened the scene in which he confronts Cruise’s Joel in the driveway of the teen’s house, he immediately sought out a good plastic surgeon. “There’s a two-shot in that scene, a nose to nose is what they call in the business of 50/50, and Tom has got a very prominent nose, but my nose out-warped his fucking nose, for sure,” he says. “I saw my nose and I remember thinking, ‘That’s it?’” The results of the procedure were not exactly as he’d hoped. Says Pantoliano: “I’d felt like a leading man trapped in the body of a character actor. So I had the procedure done and basically wound up playing bad guys with small noses.”

As an actor, he’s not as surprised as the rest of the world by Will Smith’s infamous Oscar slap. Pantoliano, who appeared in three Bad Boys movies alongside Will Smith, believes that his one-time co-star’s actions reflect the kind of disposition and internal emotional turmoil that all great actors require to do their jobs. “We’re not stars; people make us stars but we have a whole series of situations that we take with us,” he explains. “That’s our baggage. We use that baggage to create characters. We use our own hurt and our own pain and the emotional evolution of who we are. We bravely put them into the characters to sublimate all of that pain.”

He’s not at all embarrassed by that scene in The Sopranos. A moment on one of TV’s very best shows has Janice Soprano, played by Aida Turturro, penetrating him with a dildo during sex. Says Pantoliano: “It was a love scene! I’m sure you’ve enjoyed having inanimate objects shoved up your ass!”