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.
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
"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..."
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",
"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
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
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
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