He stopped by The Early Show Friday to discuss the movie, his recent Emmy Award nomination for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" and his new CBS series, "The Handler."
Pantoliano won his first Emmy Award nomination Thursday for playing the psychotic mobster Ralph Cifaretto, who met a violent end last season at the hands of Tony Soprano.
Watching a clip from the show, Pantoliano tells co-anchor Hannah Storm his character was "diabolical. I never thought that a guy who could be that evil, or of anybody who would play him. I guess I'm looking at myself now."
Pantoliano has played a number of shady characters in his 70-odd films including "Risky Business," "The Matrix," and "Memento." So playing a coked-up Ralphie was nothing new.
In the movie "Bad Boys II," however, Pantoliano is one of the good guys. He orders the Miami detectives, played by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, to solve a big drug case that is connected to a bloody turf war in Miami.
Pantoliano says, "The movie was fun. The machines were bigger and the trailers were bigger and the stunts were bigger. Martin and Will are fantastic. Michael was on his game, just had blast."
As for the special effects, Pantoliano says, "They use real stunt men taking real chances. They put Will and Martin in the front seat and they've got a camera behind them. So you really get in the action. And the humor is abundant, as much as the action is."
In his new television show, "The Handler," Pantoliano again plays a man of the law — this time he works for the FBI. Pantoliano's character, Joe Renato, trains and handles agents who go undercover to solve crimes in Los Angeles. He teaches his pupils how to survive and keep their cool in a world filled with underground prostitution rings, drug traffickers and high finance.
Pantoliano notes that both Mick Jackson and Ivan Strasburg, who were nominated for Emmys for "Live from Baghdad" worked on the show, and Chris Haddock is the show's executive producer.
He says, "We surrounded ourselves with all these filmmakers and we bought a hand held. We kind of embraced our limitations for an hour show. If you do 'Sopranos,' it's an hour show. You get 10, 12 days to do a show. Here we got 8. We used the cameras to get our day done and continue."
Facts About Joe Pantoliano
- 1954: Born Joseph Pantoliano in Hoboken, N. J., on Sept. 12.
- 1968: First professional stage appearance in New York at age 17.
- 1972: Portrayed Billy Bibbit in a stage production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
- 1976: Moved to Los Angeles.
- 1977: TV acting debut, "McNamara's Band", a sitcom pilot.
- 1978: Recurring role in the summer replacement series "Free Country", a period sitcom about the immigrant experience from co-producer, co-writer and star Rob Reiner.
- 1978: Worked with Rob Reiner again in the TV-movie romantic comedy "More Than Friends."
- 1979: Gained notice for his interpretation of Angelo Maggio - Frank Sinatra's role in the original movie - in the NBC miniseries version of "From Here to Eternity."
- 1980: Feature acting debut, "The Idolmaker."
- 1982: Portrayed Tommy MacMillan in "Brothers" at the South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, Calif.
- 1983: Originated the lead role of Philip in "Orphans" at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles.
- 1983: Breakthrough feature supporting role as Guido "The Killer Pimp" in the surprise hit "Risky Business." Acted off-Broadway in "The Death Star" and "Visions of Kerouac."
- 1985: First role in a Steven Spielberg production, "The Gooonies."
- 1987: Portrayed anti-Communist attorney Roy Cohn in the CBS miniseries biopic "Robert Kennedy and His Times."
- 1990-1991: Cast as a regular in the short-lived sitcom "The Fanelli Boys."
- 1993: Portrayed Cosmo Renfro in "The Fugitive."
- 1994: Provided a voice for the CBS animated version of the children's movie "Beethoven."
- 1995: Played the recurring role of stoolie Vinnie Greco on the ABC cop drama "NYPD Blue."
- 1996: Cast as a regular on the CBS crime drama "EZ Streets."
- 1996: Was Jennifer Tilly's gangster lover in "Bound", directed by the Wachowski brothers.
- 1998: Reprised role of Cosmo Renfro in "U.S. Marshals."
- 1999: Cast as the renegade Cypher in the blockbuster "The Matrix."
- 2000: Played an oddball, slightly mysterious figure shadowing a man who cannot form new memories in the stylish thriller "Memento."
- 2001: Joined the cast of the HBO series "The Sopranos", playing Ralph Cifaretto. Made feature directorial debut with "Just Like Mona" (released 2001)