Ralphie on The Sopranos. Cypher in Memento. Guido the Killer Pimp in Risky Business. Joe Pantoliano, or Joey Pants, as his friends call him, has made a career of playing perversely charming weasels. After two seasons on The Sopranos, Pantoliano's back on the big screen, playing a newspaper reporter in Daredevil (with Ben Affleck) and reprising his role as Captain Howard in Bad Boys 2 (with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence). He's also penned a biography, which he's adapting into Joey Pants, the movie. And did we mention he likes to down a couple of "Dirty Hoo-Wa"s in his spare time? Sharon Knolle
How long did you know Ralphie was going to get whacked?
When David [Chase] hired me, it was a two-year job, and it would be way too expensive to keep me around. So it was always his intention to bump me off. But Ralphie was not whacked. It was a murder, a fight to the death. If Ralphie had gotten in a few better shots, it would have been Tony lying on that floor.
What inspired you to write Who's Sorry Now?: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy?
One of the reasons was these Italian-American organizations saying that The Sopranos was depicting all Italian-Americans as gangsters. My book describes the importance that the men in my life had on me. I had a cousin, a stepfather who spent 21 years in the federal penitentiary, and who had the most influential, positive aspect that anybody had on my life. When he got out of prison, I was 12 and illiterate and he taught me to read.
You say you don't consider yourself an Italian-American.
I'm an American of Italian descent. I don't speak the language. Talk about your stereotypes. I never liked Italian food. I have a restaurant in Connecticut and people always think it's Italian.
What kind of restaurant is it?
It's called Bamboo Asian Confusion. It mixes Asian with Italian and French and so on. And we do that even with our alcohol. We have the Dirty Hoo-wa, which is a vodka martini with a big olive stuffed with gorgonzola cheese. And we have Ralphie's Revenge, which is a Bloody Mary with wasabi.
Something about you that no one would know?
My life's an open book, baby.