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Joe  Pantoliano

Joe Pantoliano

Emmy Award-Winning Actor, Producer, & Mental Health Activist


Joe Pantoliano is a beloved actor who set out more than a decade ago to change the way people think and talk about mental health. Known for his Emmy Award-winning role in The Sopranos and films such as The Matrix, Bad Boys, Memento, and The Goonies—to name a few—Pantoliano was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2008. After years of struggling, he got help and started learning more about the brain. Read More >

When he would talk about his experience, other people shared their own stories. Pantoliano went on to film a documentary called No Kidding? Me Too! and started a nonprofit organization with the same name aimed at uniting members of the entertainment industry to educate the public about mental illness. He prefers to use the term dis-ease to make the topic easier to talk about. “I wanted to change the mindset,” he said. “I always disliked mental illness as a description—it made me feel labeled as permanently disabled. I see emotional disease as less frightening in most cases, a temporary state of mind, with great treatment opportunities. My depression comes and goes, and sometimes it’s reassuring to know that.”

Getting help for his depression wasn’t necessarily an unfamiliar process, and in 2008, Pantoliano hit many obstacles such as his insurance not covering some of the care he needed. He had concerns early on about taking medications—would they affect his ability portray feelings and emotions as an actor? Keeping himself mentally well is still a journey but Joe has learned some tools that can insulate him during the rough patches he endures. Pantoliano stays active on social media and recently stars in the upcoming comedy, Home Delivery.


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Speaker Videos

Hollywood Tales from My Great Depression

Stopping the Stigma

Need to Know

An Interview With Brian Williams

Speech Topics

A Tough Guy Battles Back

Joe Pantoliano has been grappling with clinical depression for over a decade. Before diagnosed, the actor, widely known as “Joey Pants,” would put on his “Joey” façade to be part of the solution, not the problem, for the 15 weeks on a movie set. But coming home, he’d crawl under the sheets feeling like his “heart was paralyzed.” Read More >

Post-diagnosis, Pantoliano felt shrouded in the stigma that surrounds depression when he couldn’t get health coverage on movie sets for fear he might have a nervous breakdown. It was then he realized he couldn’t have the luxury of being anonymous with mental illness.

Today he advocates for the recognition that “the brain does not have the same equal rights as the liver or the kidney or the gall bladder.” But it should. In an uplifting, funny, and clever presentation, Pantoliano shares his own personal story of living with depression, inspiring others with his commentary, “I’ve got it. I’m functioning. My life is better for it.”

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Stomp the Stigma of Mental Illness

Who's Sorry Now: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy

Asylum: Hollywood Tales from My Great Depression