Joe Pantoliano has been a bad boy all his life

The whole reason Captain Howard started saying “woosah” was to calm down, because he was always irritable and yelling. Are there any challenges to acting by shouting?

I’ve always had a big mouth. And my job has always been to breathe life into underwritten characters. I call those parts the “Screaming to get into my office, screaming to get out of my office” parts and being able to stand out next to Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, now that’s acting!

Do you think we’ve seen the last of you in the Bad boy? I’m not sure where we can go now.

I don’t think it looks good for Captain Howard. I mean, especially now that they’ve brought his daughter and granddaughter into the movie. [Laughs.] But I’m happy to pass the torch.

Would you say Captain Howard is the role you are most connected to?

Yes, it is Bad boys, matrix, Fugitive. For the connoisseurs, like those with college degrees, that is Souvenir. For LGBTQ+, that is Tied. Also, La Bamba, Eddie and the cruisers. The diversity and the fan base, I’ve been extremely lucky. It comes down to zip codes, like the movies that people come to me for are based on where they grew up.

I like the idea that there are so many options that there should be multiple versions of Joey Pants Mount Rushmore.

They have to start doing a Joey Pants level! Fuck Kevin Bacon! [Laughs.]

You mentioned Matrix, which Will famously passed on. Have you two ever discussed that?

I never knew that. For me, it always has been Keanu Reeves And after that Laurence Fishburne. The Wachowskis asked me to introduce them to Laurence, and we did so at the Tyson-Holyfield fight the night Tyson bit off Holyfield’s ear. So it was chaos. But you never know. Especially liked Bad Guy 4—there is what people call schadenfreude, people are happy to see someone become miserable. So a lot of people want to see this movie fail, right? And so now [premiere] The other night, seeing experienced industry people, everyone was tired, jumping out of their seats…. in a career that spanned nearly 50 years, that happened only a few times: Bad Boys II, Bad Boys 4, And Fugitive.

When did the nickname Joey Pants really get famous?

It started when I was a kid in Hoboken, when I was four or five years old. The ancients, my grandparents, were born in Italy and came here, and so the European accent, Italian, German, Dutch, evolved into a Jersey accent, and “pantaloni” is pants in Italian. So you guys, my generation, shortened it to Joey Pants. And so when I went to Hollywood, I thought I could avoid that nickname. But since it was difficult to say “Pantiliano,” I started doing it. I would say, “Yes, Joe Pantoliano for something,” and they would say, “How do I say that?” “Just say Joey Pants, like a pair of pants.” And so it never left me—it followed me all my life. I did an on-camera interview yesterday in New York and on the chyron card they introduced me as “Joey Pants.” So it seems like I’m not even Joe Pantoliano anymore—I’m just Joey Pants.

Is it true that there are real Joey Pants? to buy now?

Correct! They are wonderful. Those are work pants—I actually wear them already. I garden with them. They even have zippers at the knees, you can put pads on the pants. And they have about 13 bags!

What’s left for Joey Pants to do?

Well, as Gary Cooper said, good parts and good photos. Getting a job is easy, but getting a job in a movie that will be successful and something you can be proud of, that’s the magic – it’s a magic business. I get advice all the time about being an actor, and I kind of narrow it down to just one sentence, which is make yourself open to luck. Because talent is the last thing you need in show business

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