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Joe Pantoliano: Exclusive Interview

Interview by Clint Morris

Interview with Bad Boys II star, Joe Pantoliano
Bad Boys II Movie Review

If you have to be doing interviews at 2:00 in the morning, let it be with someone like Joe Pantoliano. The star of some movies including The Matrix, The Fugitive and Bad Boys, Pantoliano's not only worth talking too - regardless of what hour it is - he's the human equivalent to a 5 lumped cups of coffee.

His enthusiasm and spark will keep any fledging eye-lids up, as Clint Morris recently discovered.


Joe Pantoliano

Joe 'Pants'

Pantaliano's on the other end of the line to talk about Bad Boys 2, the super-sequel that re-unites him with stars Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, as well as Director Michael Bay and uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

And he doesn't need a fork in the side to sing its praises either.

"It worked out so well. I think it's an even better film than the first. It sure is a lot of fun.

"We're all a little older now, being seven years on, Michael has had his five hit pictures since, Martin's got a great part, Will's just terrific - it all worked out wonderfully."

The film, again following along the same lines as the 1995 blockbuster with Lawrence and Smith as nonconformist Miami Cops, sees Pantoliano reprising his role as their highly strained superior, Captain Howard.

"We really capitalised on the elements of the first film with the guys getting into trouble and then me having to get them out of it. Of course, this time there's a twist - Martin and I are both in Anger Management classes."

What better a time to ask the actor if he's anything like his character? "No", he laughs. "Howard's actually more like my Dad. Really High-Strung. [Puts loud voice on] What are you doing you stupid so and so..."

Joe Pantoliano

Joe Pantoliano

Pantoliano says despite only being a small part, he didn't need to be coaxed into accepting the part. "When you work for Bruckheimer, you don't get it any better.

"He's the ultimate producer. I've had the good fortune of working with some great producers over the years - but Bruckheimer is just great.

"He's a very creative, inclusive producer. He involves you in everything. For instance, any scene that even mentioned my character Captain Howard I was brought in to be part of the rehearsals. Whether you like the film or not, you can't say it wasn't a very conclusive one."

Pantoliano says he's all too aware that critics will give Bad Boys II a beating. "I know critics don't give films this like a good wrap; thing is, in private some have come up to me afterwards and told me they honestly really enjoyed the movie. Then they'd tell me that they're still going to have to write it up negatively though - and apologise.

"Most really enjoy the movie. I think it's such a thrilling ride. The two guys - Martin and Will are like today's Hepburn and Tracy. They've got such good chemistry.

"I love the stunts in the movie too. A few years back I was really impressed by all that CGI Stuff, but not so much anywhere. Here it's all stuntmen, and it just looks great. If something goes wrong, it definitely goes wrong. The eye gets too used to all that digital effects stuff."

Which begs the question, was Joe gloomy he wasn't asked back for The Matrix sequels? "I begged the Wachowski brothers for a role in that, and then I see the movie and realised why I didn't get one - there's like 500 Hugo's!" he laughs. "But they can have 500 Hugo's and can't even get one Cypher [his character from the first film] in?"

Pantoliano has high praise for the directing brothers, Andy and Larry Wachowski. They gave him his first lead in a movie. "Caesar in 'Bound' is my favourite part. It was my first major lead role in a movie. A lot of big actors wanted that role - and the Wachowski's wanted me. It was just a top notch indy film. And whether he was a bad guy or not, my character was so much the victim. I loved it how they made it look like he was going to be an easy target, and he turns the tables", he says.

"The DVD [of 'Bound'] features a great commentary. It was Sue Bright - the DVD technical advisor, Jennifer [Tilly], Gina [Gershon], the boys and me - back when the Wachowski's were talking to people. We were just eating pizza and drinking beer, it was so much fun. They would ask the Wachowski's things like 'Why's Joe in this movie anyway?' and they'd reply, 'Because he was cheap'".

Another film Pantoliano has kind words for is Memento, in which he starred opposite Australia's Guy Pearce. "Now that was a collaborative film. I don't like directors that just say 'stand there' and 'now do this' - this one, we were all involved from the very beginning.

"Every Saturday, back when I lived in L.A, Guy, Chris [Nolan, the director] and my wife, would all go to my house where we would go to my house and rework stuff, read the script. It was just a fantastic journey. I love that film...and that experience."

Pantoliano's schedule is already looking near booked out for the next twelve months. On it, a CGI film called Racing Stripes, a new television series and possibly a sequel to superhero hit Daredevil.

"The Television show is called 'The Handler'; we're doing it for CBS and Viacom. I play an FBI handler, sort of like an Aunty to the agents," he says.

From underground prostitution rings and drug traffickers to the worlds of high-tech and high finance, it's a surreptitious look at how Joe's well-schooled operatives permeate and tackle them all. "Mick Jackson directed the pilot and the first episode. We've got some great guest stars coming in - Peter Weller, Burt Young, Laura San Giacomo. And Mike Starr just did an episode."

Also on his plate is Racing Stripes, which tells the story of an abandoned baby zebra that grows up on a modest Kentucky farm - later believing he's a horse. "It's kind of like Babe," explains Pantoliano. "I'm playing a Pelican."

After that, Pantoliano might be appearing in Elektra, a spin-off of the film Daredevil, as well as a sequel. "Haven't heard yet, but they've got the option on me. They sort of own on me."

And what about the chances of a Bad Boys III? "I'm hearing things already. Bad Boys II has knocked everyone's socks off over here [USA]. I'm sure, we'll be doing one shortly.

"Actually, we should do another ten Bad Boys movies. I could come in in one of those electric wheelchairs, like Peter Sellers in "Dr Strangelove", just shouting away...", laughs Pantoliano.

We don't doubt it Joey Pants.

Bad Boys II commences in Australia from Thursday 18th of September

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