A&P and Pepsi present Joey Pants with a $60,000 check for NKM2 charity.
At 59, Joe Pantoliano has acted in over 120 films, is the author of a best-selling autobiography and even has his own line of pasta sauce.
But growing up in the projects of 1950s Hoboken, they called him “Joey Pants.”
“The ol’ Mustache Petes, they used to say ‘Hey, Pantalone!’ which means ‘pants’ in Italian and then (with) the kids, the Americanized version was ‘Pants,'” the actor said this afternoon the stoop of his Hoboken apartment on Willow Avenue.
As a young child, life with his bookie mother was difficult enough when Pantoliano was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. Then, at 19, he began experiencing intense feelings of sadness.
Four years ago, Pantoliano was diagnosed with clinical depression. He was relieved to find a treatable, biological cause for his years of emotional turmoil.
Now, Pantoliano is working to remove the stigma associated with mental illness with his charity No Kidding, Me Too!, rallying other actors to his cause including Robert Downey Jr. and fellow “Sopranos” star Edie Falco.
It all began in 2006 when Pantoliano starred in a film called “Canvas.” His friends would ask him what it was about and when he said it was about a family coping with mental illness, their reply was often, “No kidding, me too!”
Today, A&P and Pepsi presented Joey Pants with a $60,000 check for the charity at A&P Supermarket on Clinton Street, just blocks away from where he grew up, before a small crowd of fans and old friends from the neighborhood.
“Kids don’t know that it’s cool to have a mental disease and it’s cool to talk about it, cool to share,” he told them. “And they don’t have to walk around and feel like they’re the only person in the world that feels that way.”
To learn more about Joey’s foundation, No Kidding Me Too or Pepe & Pants Pasta Sauces: