Joey Pants, Weyni Mengesha, and Intermittent Fasting

Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.

1. You know, all that weight I lost intermittent fasting, I totally fuckin’ found it. It would seem that it’s been hiding in Italy the whole time.

2. Besides congratulating Weyni, who I have known for probably 20 years and who directed me in my only Best Actor Nomination ever in theatre, I’d like to get ahead of anyone dismissing this appointment as political (based on Weyni’s gender and race) by saying, “Do some research, motherfucker. And shut the fuck up.” 

3. Ethel, John, and Lionel Barrymore were once all onstage together when suddenly nobody was speaking. After a long pause, the prompter gave the actors the next line of dialogue. None of them said anything. The prompter, figuring they didn’t hear him, repeated the line again but slightly louder. Still nothing. The prompter says the line a third time, a bit louder again, at which point Ethel Barrymore breaks character completely and, right in front of the audience, turns to face the prompter directly and says, “We ALL know the line now, darling. Which one of us is supposed to say it?”

I love legendary theatre stories. I don’t even care if they’re true or not.

4. Guest Post of the Week

5. “There are no small parts, only small actors” is just some bullshit that an actor who never got any big parts made up. There are lots of small parts. There is no shame in playing them. You make them shameful when you say shit like this, in my opinion. Just fucking play them. I do all the time.

6. To undercut National Coming Out Day, in typical asshole alt-right form, the US implements National Throwing Up Day almost exactly one week earlier.

7. In the Italian town where we are filming, there are so few available women under the age of 60 that I’ve started jokingly referring to the NOnnas as YESnas.

8. Classic Me

9. I have always admired and felt a connection to Joe Pantoliano’s work: The Goonies, Risky Business, Midnight Run, The Sopranos, and many more. When I heard I was going to be working with him, I nearly shit myself. I’m talking bucket list. Now, I’ve known people who have worked with him and had positive experiences and others who have had negative ones. You never know, right? I’m stating the painfully obvious but actors are just people—even the most famous ones. Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a good experience with them. The most generous of souls has good days and bad ones.

Whenever I have met an American star—and I have met many—it has been in a moment where they are displaced. They have families and relationships they’re trying to maintain long distance. They are leading the project we’re working on, and feeling the pressures that come with that: working long hours, learning piles of lines, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, not surrounded by their usual comforts of home.

I write all of this primarily for younger actors (as I do with most acting related things in this column). The best way to alienate a “big” actor when you meet them is to immediately and relentlessly stick yourself up their ass. Personally, I like to say hello, introduce myself, tell them who I am playing, and let them know I look forward to working with them. That’s it. When I show up to set, I watch them work. I pay particular attention to how they interact with cast and crew and try to get a read on who they are as a person and what their desired boundaries are (do they embrace the selfie or it’s a nuisance?). I’ve heard many terrible firsthand stories about a lot of actors that I admire a lot which I won’t repeat because they aren’t my stories to share. I could tell you that Tim Allen was a total dick when I worked with him, but why would you care? I’d rather tell positive stories, for the most part.

Once I had sussed out Joey Pants from a distance, and felt like I had a pretty good read on who he was as a man, I had a couple of opportunities to ask him about his career. When he wasn’t working or busy, he would say, “Go ahead, ask me. Now is good time.” He was more than happy to share stories and break balls and have his balls broken. A bit of what he shared with me was quite vulnerable and personal. And a lot was extremely entertaining: stories he had likely honed by telling them over and over through the years in that unmistakable voice and rhythm that I have been listening to my whole life.

I guess my point is that if you want to have a good experience with the “big stars”, you have a responsibility in that. Don’t treat them like stars. Treat them like co-workers, like people, like family. You’re on set, not at a Fan Expo. Conduct yourself like a professional.

An example of why: we were shooting my coverage of a scene which was one of the most poignant moments in the film and after the first take Joe said, “Print that one, moving on” (which is usually what a director yells when he is happy with a take). Joe meant it as a compliment. I had felt good about the take, absolutely, but thought I would do another just to see. Joey says to me, “What are you, fucking nuts? That was beautiful. You don’t want to give them OPTIONS.” He was looking out for me and my performance. I’ve been doing this shit for thirty years now and I can state that, with very few exceptions, if you take care of the actors that you are working with no matter how “big” or “small” they are, they will take care of you. At the end of the day, we are all just here to do our jobs. It’s all about the work. Celebrity is just a bullshit byproduct of it.

10. Truth Corner

11. Interesting bit of trivia: the emoji for thank you hands in English is the same as the Italian one for “What The Fuck Is The Matter With You.”

12. Top 5 Favourite Times Joey Pants broke balls on set this week:

5. After my phone (which was on silent) beeped during a take-

Why do you even have a phone? Nobody likes you. Do yourself a favour and save 80 bucks a month.

4. To Ken Cancellara (writer of the book that the film is based on and who is from Acerenza, where we are shooting)-

Hey, Ken. I saw the poster that says we are shooting here in town last night. It’s everywhere. What I want to know is how come your fucking picture is bigger than ours?

3. To Mario Scenna, who coughed during a take-

Mario, do me a favour. Next time you feel a cough coming during a take, kill yourself.

2. To Scott McClellan (on his birthday, very early in the day)-

Yeah, Yeah. We know. It’s your birthday. We ate the cake already.

1. Sitting between myself and Kevin Hanchard. I tell him has something small in his nose and pick it out for him (I have had an infected hangnail for a couple days).

Joe- I hope that’s not your infected finger.

Me- It probably is now.

Joe turns to Kevin- See? This is what happens when you’re nice to the extras. They want to move in with you, all of a sudden.

Tony, Joey Pants, and Kevin Hanchard

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Tony is Italian, he’s from Scarborough, he’s an actor, he’s a father, he’s a really good house painter, and he doesn’t believe that most things matter, ultimately, at all.