Sunday, April 14, 2024

Exclusive: Joey Pants on James Gandolfini: “We Joked About Getting Older, Our Health”


EXCLUSIVE: One of our favorite people is Joey “Pants” Pantoliano. He played Ralph Cifaretto for two seasons on “The Sopranos,” from 2001-2004, 23 episodes in all. Joey does not want to be interviewed about James Gandolfini right now. He hung up on Greta van Susteren live last night on Fox News after her producers ambushed him and started asking what he thought were inappropriate questions.

Today, Joey told me after, believe me, a lot of prodding: “Our first scene together, we were blocking for rehearsal. Jimmy grabbed my hand, we were nose to nose. He said, ‘It’s a pleasure and an honor to be working with you.'” He took a breath. “He had those sad eyes. If you looked deep inside them, you could see your soul.” He added: “I’m so sad for his family. His sisters, his son. I got to meet his father [who died in 2005]. He was such a small man, physically, compared to Jimmy…”

Pantoliano says they used to joke about their health and getting older. “We were shooting a diner scene, in a real diner. Jimmy was eating steak and eggs. I think he had like four breakfasts. I said, “Hey, we gotta be careful now. We’re getting older.” Jimmy said, “I love steak and eggs. Anyway, 25% of my arteries are blocked.” I said, What? He said, “That means 75% aren’t.”

Joey is keeping to himself for the next few days. “Jimmy was very private. He didn’t like publicity, you know that.” He added: “I loved him.” The only other Soprano he’s talked to so far is Edie Falco. “She’s the same way. We’re in shock.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News