Joe Pantoliano
Pantoliano in February 2009
Joseph Peter Pantoliano

(1951-09-12) September 12, 1951 (age 72)
Other namesJoey Pants
Years active1974–present
  • Morgan Kester
    (m. 1979; div. 1985)
  • Nancy Sheppard
    (m. 1994)

Joseph Peter Pantoliano (born September 12, 1951) is an American actor who has played over 150 roles across film, television, and theater.[1][2] He is best known for portraying Ralph "Ralphie" Cifaretto on the HBO crime drama The Sopranos (1999–2007), for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and Cypher in the sci-fi action film The Matrix (1999).

After early roles in the television series M*A*S*H and the comedy film Risky Business, Pantoliano gained recognition for numerous supporting roles in films and television shows such as Hill Street Blues, The Goonies, La Bamba, Empire of the Sun, Midnight Run, NYPD Blue, Memento, and Bad Boys and its sequels. He also appeared in The Fugitive and its spin-off U.S. Marshals. He began working with the Wachowskis in their directorial debut Bound, and later appeared in their film The Matrix and their sci-fi series Sense8.

Pantoliano has published two memoirs and is active in the field of mental health, having documented his mother's issues and his own. He founded the nonprofit No Kidding, Me Too! which is dedicated to removing the stigma from mental illness.[3]

Early life

Joseph Peter Pantoliano was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on September 12, 1951,[4] the son of Italian-American parents Mary (née Centrella) and Dominic "Monk" Pantoliano.[5] His mother was a bookmaker and seamstress, while his father was a hearse driver and factory foreman.[6][7] His family moved to Cliffside Park, New Jersey, where he attended Cliffside Park High School.[8] He attended the HB Studio and studied extensively under actors Herbert Berghof and John Lehne.[9]


Pantoliano aboard USS John F. Kennedy during Fleet Week, 2005

Pantoliano first grew to fame as Guido the killer pimp in 1983's Risky Business. In 1985 he appeared as the villainous Francis Fratelli in teen classic The Goonies. He gained fame among a new generation as Cypher in the 1999 landmark sci-fi film The Matrix. He won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for the role of Ralph Cifaretto in HBO's The Sopranos.[10]

Pantoliano is also known for his role as Eddie Moscone, the foul-mouthed, double-crossing bail bondsman, in the Robert De Niro comedy Midnight Run, as Captain Conrad Howard in Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, Bad Boys for Life and Bad Boys: Ride or Die, as double-crossed mafioso Caesar in Bound, as John "Teddy" Gammell in Memento, and as investigative journalist Ben Urich in Mark Steven Johnson's 2003 Daredevil adaptation. He played Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro in The Fugitive along with Tommy Lee Jones and reprised the role in the sequel U.S. Marshals.

In 2003 Pantoliano replaced Stanley Tucci in the Broadway play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.

In 2012 Pantoliano starred as the eccentric pawn broker Oswald Oswald in the film adaptation of Wendy Mass's popular children's book Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, written and directed by Tamar Halpern.[11] In 2013, he was cast as Yogi Berra in the Broadway production of Bronx Bombers,[12] but dropped out during rehearsals due to "creative differences."[13] From 2015 to 2018 he played Michael Gorski in the Wachowskis' Netflix series Sense8.

Personal life

Pantoliano was married to Morgan Kester from 1979 until they divorced in 1985. He married his second wife, former model Nancy Sheppard, in 1994; they have four children together,[14] and reside in Connecticut.[15] He was introduced to Sheppard by actress Samantha Phillips.[16]

During his tenure on The Sopranos, Pantoliano struggled to stay anonymous in his native New Jersey; when filming his scenes as Ralph, he prevented the public from recognizing him by wearing a wig based on the hairstyle of filmmaker Christopher Nolan, who had previously directed him in Memento.[17] Ralph's secret use of a wig later became a minor plot point in one episode of the show.[18]

On October 9, 2007, Pantoliano announced on the National Alliance on Mental Illness blog that he had been suffering from clinical depression for the last decade, although he was only formally diagnosed recently. He also has dyslexia.[citation needed] He said that his 2006 film Canvas helped him come to terms with his depression.[19] Rather than hide his illness from the public, he chose to speak out about it to remove some of the stigma commonly associated with mental illness. He founded a nonprofit organization called No Kidding, Me Too! which aims to unite members of the entertainment industry in educating the public about mental illness.[20] The title comes from the response he has frequently heard after revealing how mental illness affected him and his family. He directed, wrote, and starred in the documentary No Kidding! Me 2!! (2009).[21]

Pantoliano is the author of two memoirs: Who's Sorry Now: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy and Asylum: Hollywood Tales From My Great Depression: Brain Dis-Ease, Recovery, and Being My Mother's Son. He revealed in the latter that he struggled with alcoholism, food addiction, sex addiction, and addictions to Vicodin and Percocet before being diagnosed with clinical depression.[22]

On May 1, 2020, Pantoliano suffered a concussion and chest trauma when he was struck by a vehicle while walking in his neighborhood.[15]



Year Title Role Notes
1974 Road Movie Mugger Credited as Joseph Pantoliano
For Pete's Sake Undercover Cop Uncredited[citation needed]
1980 The Idolmaker Gino Pilato
1982 Monsignor Private Joe Musso
1983 The Final Terror Eggar Buelton
Risky Business Guido
Eddie and the Cruisers "Doc" Robbins
1985 The Mean Season Andy Porter
The Goonies Francis Fratelli
1986 Running Scared "Snake"
1987 Scenes from the Goldmine Manny Ricci
La Bamba Bob Keane
The Squeeze Norman
Amazon Women on the Moon Sy Swerdlow Segment: "Hairlooming"
Empire of the Sun Frank Demarest
1988 The in Crowd Perry Parker
Midnight Run Eddie Moscone
1990 Ardouous Moon Unknown Short film
Downtown White
Blue Heat Wayne Gross
Short Time Scalese
Backstreet Dreams Paul Antangeli Uncredited
1991 Zandalee Gerri
1992 Used People Frank
1993 Three of Hearts Mickey
The Fugitive Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro
Calendar Girl Harvey Darpinian
Me and the Kid Roy
1994 Robot in the Family The Father
Teresa's Tattoo Bruno
Baby's Day Out Norbert "Norby" LeBlaw
1995 Bad Boys Captain Conrad Howard
Congo Eddie Ventro
The Last Word Doc
Steal Big Steal Little Eddie Agopian, Ruben's Lawyer
The Immortals Pete Tunnell
1996 The Flight of the Dove Attorney Brezner
Bound Caesar
1997 Top of the World Vince Castor
Aliens Attack Captain Nevins
Tinseltown Arnie
Natural Enemy Stuart Direct-to-video
1998 U.S. Marshals Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro
Hoods Charlie Flynn
Taxman Al Benjamin
1999 Forces of Nature Cab Driver Uncredited cameo[citation needed]
The Matrix Cypher / Mr. Reagan
Black and White Bill King
The Life Before This Jake MacLean
New Blood Hellman
2000 Ready to Rumble Titus Sinclair
Memento James Edward "Teddy" Gammell
A Better Way to Die "Flash"
2001 Cats & Dogs Peek (voice)
2002 A Call for Help Charlie
The Adventures of Pluto Nash Mogan
2003 Daredevil Ben Urich
Bad Boys II Captain Conrad Howard
Silver Man Norbert
2004 Second Best Elliot
Perfect Opposites Louis Carbonelli
The Easter Egg Adventure Terrible Timothy Takit (voice)
2005 Racing Stripes Goose (voice)
The Check Up The Inspector Short film
The Amateurs Some Idiot
2006 Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector Mayor Maurice T. Gunn
Wedding Daze Smitty
Canvas John Marino
Unknown Bound Man / Brockman
2007 Spring Break '83 Sergeant Coltrane Unreleased
2009 The Job Perriman
Deadly Impact David Kaplow
Falling Up George
2010 The Legend of Secret Pass Chucksta (voice)
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Gabe Ugliano
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Peek (voice)
New York Street Games Himself Documentary
2011 Loosies Carl
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life Oswald Oswald III
2014 The Identical Avi Hirshberg
2016 The Perfect Match Marty
2017 Just Getting Started Joey
2018 Happy Anniversary Aldo
Feast of the Seven Fishes Uncle Frankie
The Brawler Al Braverman
2019 From the Vine Marco Gentile
2020 Bad Boys for Life Captain Conrad Howard
2021 Hide and Seek Collin Carmichael
2024 Bad Boys: Ride or Die Captain Conrad Howard [23]


Year Title Role Notes
1977 McNamara's Band Frankie Milano Television film
1978 Free Country Louis Peschi 3 episodes
1979 From Here to Eternity Private Angelo Maggio 3 episodes
1980 Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story Ray Neal Television film
1981–1984 Hart to Hart Frank Tisdale / Nate Volkman 2 episodes
1981 M*A*S*H Corporal Gerald Mullen / Josh Levin Episode: "Identity Crisis"
1982 Chicago Story Cooney Episode: "Who Needs the Truth?"
1983 Hardcastle and McCormick Teddy Hollins Episode: "The Crystal Duck"
1984 Mister Roberts Insignia Television film
Hill Street Blues Sonny Orsini 2 episodes
Trapper John, M.D. Michael Merrow Episode: "Where There's a Will"
Simon & Simon Carl Episode: "Who Killed the Sixties?"
1985 Robert Kennedy & His Times Roy Cohn Episode #1.1
1986 Amazing Stories Joe Episode: "One for the Road"
L.A. Law Rob Cavanaugh Episode: "Pilot"
1987 Destination America Lieutenant Mike Amico Television film
1987 Beverly Hills Buntz Jimmy Montaigne Episode: "Pilot"
1988 Rock 'n' Roll Mom Ronnie Television film
1989 Nightbreaker Sergeant Jack Russell Television film
The Hitchhiker Brother Charles Episode: "Miracle of Alice Ames"
Tales from the Crypt Ulrich The Undying Episode: "Dig That cat...He's real gone"
1990 El Diablo "Kid" Durango Television film
1990–1991 The Fanelli Boys Dominic Fanelli 19 episodes
1991 One Special Victory Daniel Television film
1992 Through the Eyes of a Killer Jerry Television film
Highlander: The Series Dr. Wilder Episode: "Deadly Medicine"
1994 Dangerous Heart Barclay Television film
Beethoven Sparky (voice) 12 episodes
1995 The Marshal Cameris Episode: "Unprotected Witness"
NYPD Blue Vinnie Greco 3 episodes
1996 Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Ice Detective Meyer Meyer Television film
Life with Louie Jojo Stomopolous (voice) Episode: "Caddy on a Hot Tin Roof"
Arliss Vic Freed Episode: "The Client's Best Interest"
1996–1997 EZ Streets Jimmy Murtha 12 episodes
1998–2000 Godzilla: The Series Victor "Animal" Palotti (voice) 8 episodes
1998 Hercules King Pan (voice) Episode: "Hercules and the King for a Day"
The Lionhearts Director (voice) 5 episodes
1999 Sugar Hill Joe Pilot
The Outer Limits Stan Harbinger Episode: "Alien Radio"
Olive, the Other Reindeer Martini (voice) Television special
2001–2004 The Sopranos Ralph Cifaretto 21 episodes
2001 Roswell Kal Langley 2 episodes
2002 The Nick Cannon Show Himself 2 episodes
2003–2004 The Handler Joe Renato 16 episodes
2003 Gary the Rat Anthony "The Heel" Stilletto (voice) Episode: "Sleeps with the Fishes"
2004 Dr. Vegas Tommy Danko 7 episodes
2006 Deceit Anthony Television film
Waterfront Jimmy Centrella Unreleased series
The Simpsons Dante (voice) Episode: "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer"
2011 How to Make it in America Felix DiFlorio 2 episodes
2014 More Time with Family Stan Rizzo Pilot
2015 Deadbeat Famous Actor Episode: "The Emancipation Apparition"
2015–2017 Sense8 Michael Gorski Uncredited
5 episodes
2017 SpongeBob SquarePants Stickyfins Whiting (voice) Episode: "The Getaway"
2018 Lake Placid: Legacy Henderson Television film
2020–2023 Tacoma FD Eddie Penisi Sr. 4 episodes
2020–2021 MacGyver Eric Andrews 2 episodes
2021 The Santa Stakeout Francis Miller Television film
2022 Chucky Himself Episode: "Death on Denial"[24]
2023 The Patrick Star Show Stickyfins Whiting (voice) Episode: "Patrick's Prison Pals"

Video games

Year Title Character
2001 Majestic Tim Pritchard Episode 4
Grand Theft Auto III Luigi Goterelli
2013 Call of Duty: Black Ops II Albert "Weasel" Arlington Mob of the Dead expansion
2021 Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition Luigi Goterelli Archival Recordings
Remaster of Grand Theft Auto III only

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1997 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor Bound Nominated
Television Critics Association Individual Achievement in Drama EZ Streets Nominated
Viewers for Quality Television Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama Series Nominated
2002 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series The Sopranos Nominated
2003 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Won
2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated



  1. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 11, 2007). "The serious side of Joey Pants". Retrieved April 12, 2020. Consider Joe Pantoliano. Famous for 'The Sopranos,' established as a character actor playing gangster and comic types, known by everyone, including himself, as 'Joey Pants'
  2. ^ Malkin, Marc (October 5, 2018). "Joe Morton, Jessica Walter, Joe Pantoliano to Be Honored at Carney Awards". Variety Media LLC. Retrieved April 12, 2020. Joe Pantoliano...will be honored at this year's Carney Awards. Named in honor of the late Art Carney, the Carney Awards were launched ... to celebrate Hollywood's leading character actors.
  3. ^ "A Tough Guy Battles Back- Joe Pantoliano". International Bipolar Foundation. October 14, 2014. Retrieved April 12, 2020. Inspired by his role in Canvas, Pantoliano created No Kidding, Me Too!, a nonprofit dedicated to removing the stigma associated with mental illness.
  4. ^ Lee Hirsch; Cynthia Lowen (September 25, 2012). Bully: An Action Plan for Teachers, Parents, and Communities to Combat the Bullying Crisis. Hachette Books. pp. 157–. ISBN 978-1-60286-185-5.
  5. ^ Joe Pantoliano Biography,; accessed June 21, 2017.
  6. ^ "SMOKE 09/02 – Joe Pantoliano in the Hot Seat". Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  7. ^ Who's Sorry Now: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy Archived October 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Entertainment Weekly, October 4, 2002
  8. ^ Smith, Ray. "'Hoboken was a very wild community' Actor Joe Pantoliano inspires; honored at the Boys and Girls Club" Archived September 11, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, The Hudson Reporter, December 12, 2010. Accessed September 10, 2017. "Pantoliano and his lifelong friend Rich Pepe have teamed up to create their own pasta sauce (or gravy, depending on your ethnicity) called Pepe and Pants Pasta Sauce, of which 100 percent of the net proceeds are donated to "No Kidding, Me Too!" The two men graduated from Cliffside Park High School together after their families moved from Hoboken.
  9. ^ "Joe Pantoliano". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  10. ^ "Nominees/Winners".
  11. ^ "Reviews".
  12. ^ O'Keeffe, Michael; Toulson, Ja'Pheth; Abbott, Campbell (August 3, 2013). "Joe Pantoliano to play Yogi Berra in Bronx Bombers: "Bronx Bombers examines how baseball's most storied franchise has always remained focused on maintaining a great team, even when dealing with some of the game's most iconic and tempestuous personalities," the producers say in a press release". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam (September 17, 2013). "Joe Pantoliano Speaks Out Via Twitter and Facebook Following Bronx Bombers Departure". Playbill. Archived from the original on February 26, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  14. ^ All in the Family,; accessed June 24, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Henderson, Cydney. "'Sopranos' star Joe Pantoliano suffers 'severe head injury' after being hit by car", USA Today. May 2, 2020. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  16. ^ "Friends Setting Up Friends," Archived July 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine; accessed June 21, 2017.
  17. ^ "'Sopranos' actor Joe Pantoliano wore a wig based on Christopher Nolan's hair to avoid fans". January 17, 2020.
  18. ^ The Sopranos episode "Whoever Did This".
  19. ^ "'No kidding?' Joe Pantoliano was depressed, too". The Mercury News. May 1, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  20. ^ "No Kidding? Me Too! – Stomping the stigma of mental disease".
  21. ^ No Kidding! Me 2!! (2009) – IMDb, retrieved February 4, 2021
  22. ^ "Joe Pantoliano – He Puts the 'Fun' in Dysfunctional". ABILITY Magazine.
  23. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 26, 2024). "'Bad Boys 4' Title Unveiled In First Trailer As Will Smith & Martin Lawrence Return To Miami – Watch". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 26, 2024.
  24. ^ Perry, Spencer (June 15, 2022). "Chucky Season 2 Adds Gina Gershon, Sutton Stracke, and Joe Pantoliano". ComicBook. Retrieved June 16, 2022.