Harnessing social media’s power, actor Joe Pantoliano is offering DVDs of his film “No Kidding Me 2!” to anyone who helps fund the sequel about fighting the stigma of mental illness.
“I hate to ask but! we are running low on dough,” the Hoboken native writes on Facebook, “and it voden’t hurt for everyone to make a tax deductible donation to nkm2 on paypal.”
“I want to make the Next movie from the 18 hrs of interviews while in iraq. Eliminate the blame, there is no shame. Donate $50, and well give you nkm2 the movie.”
Pantoliano, who won an Emmy as sociopath Ralph Cifaretto on “The Sopranos,” founded No Kidding, Me Too!, a non-profit organization, to fight the stigma of mental illness.
Driven to fight the way the world views mental illness — having suffered from clinical depression himself — the Cliffside Park High School grad produced and directed the documentary, “No Kidding, Me 2!”, about people living with the disease.
“I want to make a movie about this…”:
The military invited Pantoliano to show the documentary to GIs in the Middle East to help combat suicide and depression among the ranks, and he took to the task with the same kind of intensity he’s shown in his performances (Who can forget his shout of “LENNNNNY!” from “Memento” or the death struggle with Tony Soprano?).
It‘s a very personal cause, given what Pantoliano said he has endured. Despite his fame and much-deserved critical acclaim, “Joey Pants” — the man who once gave Fiore’s Deli a shout-out on national television for its magnificent mozzarella (he wasn’t lyin’) — said he felt so down he didn‘t want to go on living.
Mental illness is much more prevalent than people want to believe, mostly because of the shame, he has said.
“I never thought we were crazy: I just thought we were Italian, and that everybody who was Italian was just like us,” Pantoliano once told an interviewer. “You know, people yelled and we screamed and we carried on and we said what we said and that was the end of it.”
His book, “Who’s Sorry Now?”, is an intensely personal tale of growing up miserable, with dyslexia and ADD, and finding peace with the person he blamed most — his mother.
Now, his mission is to help make life easier for those with brain diseases.
“We want people to turn to each other and start the conversation,” Pantoliano told an interviewer for Parade magazine. “Having been diagnosed with mental disease is the greatest single thing to ever have happened to me.
“You can’t get better until you can talk about it freely.”
To donate, go to nkm2.org .
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