Joe Pantoliano

My 5 Minutes with the President

One of today’s best character actors, Joe Pantoliano boasts more than 100 film, television and stage credits. Joey Pants — as he is affectionately known — has been revered and honored for his unique and entertaining portrayals, including killer pimp Guido in “Risky Business,” bumbling criminal Francis Fratelli in “The Goonies,” double-crossing bail bondsman Eddie Moscone in “Midnight Run,” cynical U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro in “The Fugitive,” turncoat Cypher in “The Matrix” and shady sidekick Teddy in “Memento.”

In 2001, Pantoliano joined the cast of the hit HBO series “The Sopranos.” While portraying psychopathic mobster Ralphie Cifaretto — for which he won an Emmy Award — the actor published The New York Times best-seller “Who’s Sorry Now: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy,” his memoir of his New Jersey childhood and his mother’s mental illness. 

Most recently, Pantoliano produced and starred in “Canvas,” a film that portrays a family’s struggle with mental illness. Inspired by his role in the movie, he created No Kidding, Me Too!, a nonprofit dedicated to removing the stigma associated with mental illness. He made his directorial debut, seeking to promote mental health and awareness, with the documentary, “No Kidding, Me Too!” Pantoliano is a former co-president of The Creative Coalition.

ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?

JOE PANTOLIANO: Equal rights for our brains and the end of prejudice, discrimination and bigotry toward brain disease. 

RB: If you could give President Obama one piece of advice, what would that be?

JP: Punt.

RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?

JP: How is it possible that the all-American brain is 100 percent excluded from the parity of our other vital organs?

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

JP: No.


Bronk is a seasoned Capitol Hill strategist and advocate. She started her career at The Creative Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group for the arts and entertainment industry, in July 1998. During her tenure as CEO, Bronk has taken The Creative Coalition from a New York-based entity to a national organization. www.thecreativecoalition.org