Stupid Questions

How to Get Ahead

Stupid questions with ex-''Sopranos'' star Joey Pants. The actor is back on the radar with an autobiography and a new show

Joe Pantoliano | THE HANDLER Pantoliano is not sorry about anything after being axed from ''The Sopranos''
Image credit: Pantoliano: John-Francis Bourke
THE HANDLER Pantoliano is not sorry about anything after being axed from ''The Sopranos''

Before you die, you may or may not see ''The Ring,'' but the odds are excellent that you'll see Joe Pantoliano in something. The ubiquitous character actor has appeared in 55 films, including ''Risky Business,'' ''The Matrix,'' ''Daredevil,'' and the upcoming ''Bad Boys II'' (out July 18). Given that the 52-year-old's career survived small-screen decapitation on ''The Sopranos'' last season, we figured Pantoliano was tough enough to endure our stupid questions.

You've got a show on CBS this fall called''The Handler.'' I know what shipping is, but what exactly does handling consist of?
It means taking care of the situation. Handling guys like you and their dumb questions.

You seem to wind up dead in a lot of films. Is the quickest route to box office success killing you in the middle of a movie?
That is the best recipe for success. I guess some of the best... [Sound of laughter in background] My kids are making fun of my socks. They say they're Dr. Seuss socks. They're red and orange and brown and green and blue and yellow. [To his kids] They're nice. I just got a compliment on the street from a strange woman. A stranger. She wasn't strange. She was actually quite attractive. I got her number.

How come everyone can see your socks?
I'm wearing Bermuda shorts.

Shorts? You're Joey Pants. You should be wearing pants.
Not with these legs, baby.

Do you stay in touch with the baby from 1994's''Baby's Day Out''?
Those kids must be about 15 years old now, the twins. The stunt double wound up doing a lot better than the kids. You know Verne [Troyer]? Mini-Me? He was the stunt double for ''Baby's Day Out.'' That was how he got his start. I went to the strip clubs with Verne. They loved him down there.

In your autobiography,''Who's Sorry Now,'' you write that when a fan says, ''I hated you in that movie!'' you have done your job. I didn't hate you in ''The Adventures of Pluto Nash,'' but then again, I didn't see it. Does that mean neither of us did his job?
That makes two of us. I wanted to see it, but by the time I got to the theater, they had already pulled it.

In ''Risky Business,'' your character's name was Guido. In ''Running Scared,'' it was Snake. And in ''Robert Kennedy and His Times,'' it was Roy Cohn. If you had to choose one as your name, which would it be?
Guido Cohn. Or how about this, we can use all three: Guido Cohn, That Snake.

In your book you hinted that you grew up around organized crime. If you don't like how this interview turns out, can you arrange for me to come to some sort of harm?
No, the good old days are over.... Truth be known, 98 percent of the people in my community were hardworking citizens.

So I can sleep soundly tonight?
I don't know. Let's see how hard you piss me off. I got your number. I know where you live.

Originally posted Jul 25, 2003 Published in issue #720 Jul 25, 2003 Order article reprints