Do you know when you are watching a movie and you get that feeling “I know that guy! I like that guy! But where the hell do I know him from?”
Joe Pantoliano was very much that person for me, and I definitely should underline – I REALLY like this guy! Now these days IMDb is the go-to, and Wikipedia too, but when you’re sat in a dark cinema it’s not very cool to start scrolling through the page of the film you’re watching because spoilers are a bitch, man.
If you’re a TV fan he’s got a decent CV including The Sopranos, The Simpsons and even M*A*S*H, but what do you know him from in the world of cinema? Just take a look at some of these select movies he has been cast in and tell me you haven’t enjoyed watching his performance. Full of character, a very animated person, full of expression, quick-talking jibes and very funny if somewhat sinister given the roles he has played. He’s often the bad guy but one you don’t want to see get killed off in the first act.
The Matrix (1999) Dir. The Wachowskis – he certainly looks the part in his leather jacket and shades. Each member of the Nebuchadnezzar crew have to have a certain look about them and it might be one we can’t trust because they all have to kick ass later in the movie, but when there’s Neo saving the world at one end, Pantoliano is perfect as the man central in trying to bring it down from the inside. If Agent Smith wasn’t so full of magic tricks it would have been Cypher I’d have voted to return for the sequels.
Midnight Run (1988) Dir. Martin Brest – his funniest role in my opinion. This road trip is all tied together by Pantoliano as he accidentally-on-purpose orchestrates chaos between his henchmen. Again there is a factor of his fearlessness as he is willing to compromise the tough-talking Robert De Niro. A bit of a loser but he comes SO close to winning, you never want it to end.
The Goonies (1985) Dir. Steven Spielberg – he plays a goon here and there’s the typical hysterical hilarious moments which plays for well in this child-friendly adventure story. One of his more hateful characters, but it had to be that way for our audience here.
The Fugitive (1992) Dir. Andrew Davis – one of the good gang and there’s no way he is turning bad but he is playing opposite America’s ultimate hero (registered trademark) Harrison Ford. Fantastic buddy role to Tommy Lee Jones’ hard man cop, I hate to use the word “banter” so I won’t. Funny conversations between these two means you find yourself almost rooting for them to catch our man. Great banter. Dammit.
Memento (2000) Dir. Christopher Nolan – again, he’s a sly old dog here as the likable loser he plays so well. But can we really trust him?