Interview with Joe Mantegna
Michael Bane interviews Joe Mantegna, host of MidwayUSA's Gun Stories.
On the set of MidwayUSA’s Gun Stories at the Los Angeles Silhouette Club at the Angeles shooting range, Michael Bane, producer for Gun Stories and fellow Outdoor Channel friend and personality, recently sat down with host Joe Mantegna.
Michael: Season 3 – we are doing pretty good, aren’t we?
Joe: Three is the charm Michael. It’s great to be doing another season of the show and I’m just glad to be doing it with you, Tim, Dan and all the gang. Here we are.
Michael: A critical question: Which was more exciting, getting your star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or getting your Golden Moose Award?
Joe: Wow. You know, it’s all great. There’s a saying that goes – the three greatest professions in the world are probably to be a professional athlete, a rock and roll star, or an actor. But an actor is best because he can play the other two. In a way that’s been what my life has been like. I’ve had a long, over-40-year career – from playing Dean Martin to David Rossi on “Criminal Minds” to Fat Tony on “The Simpsons” to hosting “Gun Stories” to “Godfather III.” So, to me those kind of awards – whether it’s a Tony Award or Golden Moose Award – I value them all equally. I feel very blessed.
Michael: One of the guns we’re using this season is your own personal gun, a gift from David Mamet. Tell me a little bit about that.
Joe: We did a play called “Speed-thePlow” back in 1988, Ron Silver, myself, and Madonna, a three character play. David Mamet, my dear friend, presented me with this gun as my opening night present. I guess a lot of actors on Broadway get flowers. It was unlikely that it would be like a 1908 Colt automatic. But, it is a beautiful gun, and it’s got a personal engraving on it – my name on one side. On the other side it says, “Never forget Chicago,” which as Dave and I are both from that city, it’s very apropos. So it’s one firearm that I really cherish.
Michael: What kind of response do you get from people from “Gun Stories”?
Joe: So often, especially in my profession, people forget about what I call the middle of America, and when I say “middle,” I mean everything between Los Angeles and New York, which is a lot. There’s this whole chunk of this country that are just your regular, hard working, normal human beings. They’re just out there, workaday people trying to make a living, and a lot of them are certainly believers of the Second Amendment and shoot firearms for recreation or hunting or whatever it may be. So it’s nice as I get the emails from all of those people who basically say, “Wow, it’s really great to see someone in your profession doing a show like this.” I jokingly tell you that I think of it as the thinking man’s gun show, but I really believe that.
Michael: That is a great definition.
Joe: I think so. I think we do that with this show, and I am pleased to get those kinds of email, because what I’m trying to show is that Hollywood isn’t anti-gun in every possible way. We’d be hypocrites if at least a faction of us didn’t stand up and say to our constituents – we like the shooting sports. So to be part of the show for me it’s like mixing what I often do for pleasure with what I do for a living. So the response has been great. On to Season 4 is my feeling.
Michael: You may be changing guns on “Criminal Minds.” Can you talk to that at this point?
Joe: My gun of choice for my character is a government model 1911, because I felt that’s what my guy would carry -- a guy who had been around a bit, had some military experience, been in Vietnam. So I’ve been carrying a Springfield Armory, but recently had Cabot Arms, out of Pennsylvania, make me a gun reminiscent of a gun that my character, David Rossi, would carry their version of a 1911. Cabot makes a wonderful version of that gun, and I think it’s going to have some special engraving on it. It’s not going to say Joe Mantegna, but it might say David Rossi on there somewhere. It might have some significance in terms of my character. So again, we do a show that represents a real organization, the FBI. So I think the more you can bring in real stories and real things and to tell back stories for the characters, I think it enhances the show.
Michael: That’s good. One last question. Last night we ate at your restaurant. When people think of what a star’s restaurant is like, they think swanky and everything, is that how you think of your restaurant?
Joe: I don’t know if they’ve used the word “swanky” for Taste Chicago. But it is what it is, which is a very authentic Chicago-style restaurant. It was an idea my wife had over 10 years ago so what we tried to do was duplicate the kind of restaurants and the hangouts that we would go to when we were teenagers, where you can get your Italian beef and your Polish and your deep dish pizza. We think it’s very authentic and we’re educating people to what Chicago cuisine is like. So at any given time you’ll catch me in there, hanging out when I have the time. It’s been fun, and again like I said, I’ve led a very blessed life. I do for a living what I’ve always wanted to do since I have been a teenager. I’m an actor. I shoot guns. I eat Chicago food in my own restaurant. Life’s pretty good. Michael: And closing on that, if you want the very, very best Chicago hot dog in Los Angeles - Taste Chicago.
"MidwayUSA’s Gun Stories" show page