Hi everyone! Joe Mantegna here along with my co-star Esai Morales from Criminal Minds. We are honored to be part of this year’s National Memorial Day Concert at our nation’s Capitol. The concert will pay homage to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, servicemen and women who have been disabled in service, the Gold Star Children who have lost a parent to war and commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Be sure to tune in this Sunday, May 24, 8pm EST on PBS (but check local listings).

Victoria's helping us out over Skype today to try to get to as many of your questions as possible. Go ahead and AUA!

photo proof: https://twitter.com/reddit_AMA/status/602112706162864128

EDIT: Thank you all for asking us questions. Check us out on the Memorial Day Concert on Sunday night, so you understand why we have this holiday, and thank you for following us on that and following us both on Criminal Minds! (Joe)

And I will echo Joe and be a shameless plugger of a couple projects that I'm working on, one that's about to premiere - I just finished working on the second season of FROM DUSK 'TIL DAWN (I'm actually wrapping it up this upcoming week, in Texas with Robert Rodriguez) and I want everyone to tune into HBO to watch "The Brink" premiering June 21st, on which I play the President of the United States! I describe him as the "next FIRST Latino President" because it was Jimmy Smits on the West Wing, and there have been a few actors that have played the first Latino President on other shows. But he's the POTUS - I've been talking to Joe so much I was about to say "the next Italian President of the United States" - my character's name is Julian Navarro - they don't specify what he is, so I say he's Mexican, Cuban, Argentinian, and Puerto Rican!

JOE: You should mention the Criminal Minds spinoff is gonna be on, too! It's called Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. It won't be on until mid-season. It'll air starting in January. But they're going to shoot all 13 at the same time we shoot in July. And i bet there'll be a good chance you're on that as well. Because you led them off in the pilot. It'll make sense. I will mention that when I get back.

ESAI: We have to work 3 times as hard to make half the earning power we did in the 80's! Kids are expensive!

And thank you for your support!

Comments: 125 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

Breatheher17 karma

Hey guys, do you mind kidnapping Paget Brewster and bringing her back to Criminal Minds? Much love. Cheers.

JoeMantegna13 karma

Well, there's been talk of - there's a chance Paget may make an appearance now and again. Eric our producer mentioned it in an interview that there's a possibility that Paget may return from time to time.

ImRichieDagger14 karma

Hi Mr. Mantegna! I'm a huge fan of yours and even have a Fat Tony figure in my office at home. How did you originally get involved with the Simpsons, and did you know then that you were going to be a recurring character?

JoeMantegna34 karma

No, GODFATHER III had just opened, and so I think The Simpsons were looking for an appropriate voice to be the head of the crime syndicate in Springfield.

I thought it would be 1 episode.

It's been 23 years.

elboro500012 karma

If I recall correctly, Mandy Patinkin ended up leaving Criminal Minds because the show's material got to him and he didn't want to be on it anymore. Has there been an episode that really got to either of you?

JoeMantegna16 karma

I would say this, because Mandy's entitled to his opinion, but no, none of it bothers me, because there are real men & women who do this every day. And so for me to be bothered by it is almost disrespectful for these people. And I'm sorry they have to do this work, but I think it's important to show people the way it happens, because this is a real organization, and this is what they deal with every day. I deal with it on a pretend basis. So no, it doesn't bother me.

EsaiMorales7 karma

I feel that I can understand both perspectives, because the show honors the hard work of people who have to deal with this, because the human race unfortunately has too many people that are twisted and express these acts in real-life. So I totally get Joe's point of view, but to be the Libra here, and try to see what Mandy talks about, I also understand that sometimes it feels like media can focus on the sordid parts of humanity, and I just don't want to feel like I'm exploiting that in any sense. But like Joe is said, this isn't done out of the ether, it's based off of real events -

JoeMantegna10 karma

And our show is different, in that it doesn't glorify shooting, or murder, we just show it as it is, and we show men & women who are combatting it. There's a difference between stylized entertainment and glorified entertainment, where you don't show the impact on the family and others. This show does that. It doesn't make it cool.

MsJessD410 karma

Hi Joe, thanks for doing this AMA. Here's my question, How would you describe your daily job routine whenever Matthew Gray Gubler is directing an episode ? He's quite original and certainly could fit the description of "alien living among us", and his episodes are often extremely weird and pushing boundaries further, so, how is it when you're being directed by him ?

JoeMantegna12 karma

It's great.

He's my golden boy. I love 'im.

OneScriptWonder9 karma

Hi Esai, thanks for doing this AMA. I’ve noticed a huge push in increasing diversity within the industry over the past couple months, so wanted to ask. Do you think these efforts are sustainable? If so, what part within the business will we see these efforts be most impactful? The actors? Production staff? Writers?

EsaiMorales8 karma


All of the above! But mostly, if you really want to increase diversity - it's more about who writes it, and the producers. So I'd say the production staff. Because the more you know people, the less you feel awkward about writing for them? And I think that's happened, because the community can feel sensitive, people get scared to write something wrong, so they just avoid our community altogether - either for lack of thought or too much forethought. So I'd say production staff, because they create the storylines and cast people.

I think we're doing great. With Jane the Virgin and other shows, it's starting to happen. I'd like to see us treat the Latino community the way the Italian-American community has been adopted - so you have leads like David Rossi.

JoeMantegna9 karma

And sometimes you have to ask - I've had to ask to play characters where you weren't necessarily Italian, and you have the opportunity to bring your own ethnicity to the character. So when given the opportunity, I've done it. Whenever I get to play a character like in FIRST MONDAY, or another film where I played a Doctor - exactly. I wanted to show that the same ethnic guy that's played a judge can play a gangster.

EsaiMorales4 karma

To me, it's surprising that you still have to do that.

JoeMantegna6 karma

Sometimes it helps you to do that, to have that opportunity.

operation_hennessey9 karma

Is Shemar as beautiful in real life as he is on the show? Sighhhhhhhh.....

JoeMantegna9 karma


I'd say yes, though. He's my other golden boy.

EsaiMorales7 karma

I think he is so beautiful it hurts. Seriously, you're like - the guy doesn't have a false skin cell or hair on his body.

JoeMantegna25 karma

I'm good friends with his mother, Marilyn, and she said "I only made one baby. But I sure made a pretty one."

lmi68 karma

Hi! I was wondering if you guys could wish my brother, Robert, a happy birthday - he's a fan of Criminal Minds. Also, Mr. Mantegna, what was it like filming The Godfather: Part III? Do you have any funny stories from filming it? Thanks for doing this AMA!

JoeMantegna11 karma

Well, happy birthday. And filming THE GODFATHER: PART III was great.

It was like doing the Italian STAR WARS.

Well, just that it was - it's monumental to be part of that trilogy, and I got to shoot a good part of it in Italy, so how bad could that have been?

Self_Induced7 karma

Why haven't we ever seen the BAU lear jet's pilot? I would think he'd be just as annoyed to be called to other parts of the country on a moment's notice in the middle of the night. Maybe he was being a sarcastic asshole before the show's timeline and they locked him in the cockpit?

JoeMantegna9 karma

We like to keep certain characters a little secret, and maybe someday he'll make another appearance.

Ribelin20005 karma

For Joe: how come you've never worked with Scorsese?

JoeMantegna10 karma

You'll have to ask him! Hahahaha!

JoeMantegna10 karma

Who is this? Is this Ray Liotta? No, I dunno - you'd have to ask Martin - I'm a huge fan of his, and I'd love to have the opportunity someday.

JoeMantegna10 karma

And Scorsese should be calling Esai.

bwh9995 karma

Hi, Joe! First of all, I am a huge fan! You're great! I have three questions.

1) What is your favorite thing about working on Criminal Minds?

2) Who is the most fun person to work with on Criminal Minds?

3) What is the funniest thing that has happened on the set of Criminal Minds?

JoeMantegna17 karma

1.) The people I work with. ESPECIALLY Esai, hahaha!

2.) It's a pretty fun group. But Matthew's like my, the son I never had.

3.) It might be the time that they - we all rented a live bear, to scare Shemar. Yeah. We rented a live bear, to scare Shemar.

Let them figure out what that's all about.

bwh9995 karma

I am an aspiring actor and you're my inspiration. What would your advice be to aspiring actors wanting to work in the entertainment industry?

JoeMantegna8 karma

I would say just DO IT. I don't know how old you are, but if you're in school, do plays & stuff in school. If you're not in school, go and take classes, try out for local theater things, or if there's film opportunities at local schools, give it a try. It's about doing the work. It's not about getting an agent or anything like that. You have to practice the skill of being an actor. So find the opportunities to do that, and do it.

II_Productions5 karma

Simpsons related, Mr. Mantegna. Love hearing you on commentaries for The Simpsons - I'd like to ask: what is a typical day of being Fat Tony like? What's it like going into the studio?

JoeMantegna11 karma

I've enjoyed doing it for 23 years. And I hope to do it for another 23 years.

What's a typical day like? Pretty similar to normal-sized Joe.

Who wants to know?

ghostly_penguin5 karma

Hello and greetings from Germany! I recently began watching Criminal Minds in English and it's really interesting to hear your actual voices. Have you ever seen one of your shows or movies dubbed into another language? If yes, was it confusing to hear yourself speak with a sometimes completely different voice?

JoeMantegna10 karma

Actually, I was in Munich, and there was an episode on, and I taped it because i wanted the actors back home to hear it! I was especially entertained to hear that the guy who played David Rossi sounded like he was 100 years old, and the guy who was doing Shemar's voice sounded like an 18 year old white kid - and my guy was like "Rat-ataata!"

I understand it because each country's going to have their own voices.

highonnoopept4 karma

Mr. Mantegna - What do you think will be some of the key issues in the 2020 Presidential election?

JoeMantegna8 karma

You know, the same issues that have been in this country for the last 200+ years.

EsaiMorales4 karma

I have a question for you Joe - what's it like to direct your castmates? Who gives you the most trouble?

JoeMantegna8 karma

I have to say it's sheer joy, otherwise it's trouble!

But this will be my 9th year on the show and if I don't know who these people are by now - it's like directing your brothers & sisters. Sometimes it's not the easiest thing in the world, but you love it.

JoeMantegna6 karma

I purposefully wanted Thomas and Matthew to have their shots at it first. They asked me if I wanted to direct when I joined the show, and I said I would wait, because I wanted to be very comfortable with everybody and it all worked out.

MsJessD44 karma

If you were a regular fan of Criminal Minds, one that's been watching the show on a regular basis for the past ten years, which character would you reckon would objectively be your favorite one, and one you'd most identify yourself with ?

JoeMantegna10 karma

David Rossi would be my first choice. Because it's me though.

But I suppose you must mean if it's not my character?

David Rossi if it includes me. And if not, it'd be Esai.

lulaalt4 karma

What would the world be like if it was filled entirely with people like you?

JoeMantegna16 karma

Everybody would be eating a lot more tomato sauce.

Hehehehe! Bada-bing!

DavidGeekMN4 karma

One of the great things about Criminal Minds is character development. "Dave" already dealt with his ex dying and solving that case that haunted him. "Cruz" got to flashback with "Jareau" to Iraq and deal with that issue. The only lingering thing is getting Spencer a relationship that survives... literally. All the main characters seem to have evolved to be where they need to be. Are there any new twists coming for either of your characters? Or are there places you want your characters to go?

JoeMantegna7 karma

I think that when a show's been on so long - I'm directing 2 episodes this season, I've directed one in the last few seasons, and I purposefully try to bring in more personal stories in the scripts I direct. There's always going to be a crime - that's the name of the show, I get it - but there's going to be more character development. As to what that is, you'll have to see. I've been married 3 times, we've dealt with two of my wives so far, so there's a possibility you might find out more about wife number 3.

jonemillard3 karma

Have you ever had a strange fan encounter?

JoeMantegna6 karma

I'm just glad I haven't had one yet today...YET. I think all of us have them. It just comes with the territory.

nkleszcz3 karma

Mr. Mantegna, I'm a big fan. I saw you years ago, live, performing with the late great Ron Silver and Madonna in David Mamet's SPEED-THE-PLOW. Do you have any memorable anecdotes from that production?

JoeMantegna7 karma

I think it was the NY POST claimed I saved Madonna's life one performance when a fan jumped onstage who wanted to get up close & personal with her? But I just escorted the man offstage, let the stagehands handle it.

We had crazy fans there every night! Madonna drew her own kind of crowd, and some of 'em were a little eccentric. But it was a positive experience. I liked her. We wound up doing a movie together afterwards, BODY OF EVIDENCE. She's a nice Italian girl from Michigan, that's the way I looked at it.

DavidGeekMN3 karma

MR. Morales... love your great works... especially the hard turn in Gunhill Road. Mr. Mantegna, looking at IMDB we see that you started small and grew so big and that is awesome. I have two questions.

1) How hard was it breaking in / becoming part of the team on Criminal Minds? You both replaced or usurped other characters. Was it hard to win over both the cast and the fans?

2) What part will you play in the Memorial Day special?

EsaiMorales6 karma

1.) I was the most recent addition. With the exception of Joe, everybody was a piece of cake, Hahahaha! I had to pass, a...how do I say? I had to get made. No, but the reality was that he actually suggested, I think, me for this character. The Caesar thing? Thumbs up or thumbs down? And thank god he was in a good mood that day. I remember calling Joe when I was very down, and very insecure because I just became a dad, and things weren't really flowing my way, and I will forever be grateful for his ability to listen to me and see if there's something out there. So before they ran the name by him - he's very modest, he ran MY name by them - and now i owe him! Now I gotta sing Sinatra songs at his kid's bar mitzvahs and graduations! Hey, Johnny Fontaine remembers!

JoeMantegna6 karma

1.) Well, I look at a cast like that, it's like the Sports - they were like the pennant-leading Yankees. They were playing excellent baseball, they lost left field, I just replaced this other guy. Different ballplayer, same team. In my heart, I'm more a left-fielder than a pitcher, but that's all it is. When you come into a cast of any play or movie, whatever, you basically create your own slot. you're not emulating that person, you're just filling that slot. So you're bringing your own thing to that.

EsaiMorales6 karma

2.) I was honored to be reading the incredible heroic story of Romy Camargo, who was a Special Forces member who did incredible work leading his men, and took a bullet in the spine, right under his neck, right in the 3rd vertibrae, and lost his mobility under the shoulders. This isn't just his story, it's a love story of him and his wife. And my challenge will be not to start blubbering. Because, listen to Joe, he's done this -

JoeMantegna7 karma

2.) I look forward to talking to Esai after doing this concert, because after the last 13 years of doing this concert, when I talk up to the other actors who've done this - they have this glaze in their eyes, because there's no way to describe what it's like to stand in front of 300,000 people, with the National Symphony Orchestra, reading these accounts - it's an out-of-body experience. Esai already gets it. I look forward to that moment, because it brings a lot of things into focus. It really does.

And Gary Sinise and I co-host the special. The first 3 years I was a participant, Ozzie Davis used to host it, and when he passed away, they asked if I could host it, but then Gary is so active with the military and all the stuff he does, I recommended that he come in with his band & perform, and 10 years ago, the people in charge didn't know who he was, and once he came and played with his band, and they understood his whole impact with the military, it was a perfect fit, so we've been cohosting the show for the past 10 years now.

operation_hennessey3 karma

Can you fellas tell us something about yourselves that we may find surprising?

JoeMantegna6 karma

At my age, nothing is surprising.

EsaiMorales7 karma

I dunno. I'm obsessed with tennis!

EsaiMorales7 karma

And Joe's obsessed with pasta. Tomato sauce.

JoeMantegna6 karma

That's not surprising.

EsaiMorales5 karma

I got one for Joe - that for playing such a tough guy, he's such a teddy bear. Your fans see your heart bleed through all your work.

JoeMantegna8 karma

Oh, I got one - my daughter's an actress. Gia Mantegna. Someday, they're going to say "Oh that's Gia Mantegna's father!"

Accolades40003 karma

What do you see yourselves doing in the next 5-10 yrs-goals, career, bucket list...passionate about anything?

JoeMantegna7 karma

I love doing the Memorial Day show, I want to keep doing that. I'm glad Criminal Minds has been renewed for a few years now. My life's pretty good. I don't have any wild, crazy dreams for the future. I feel very grateful that things have gone as well as they have. I'm grateful for the status quo, to tell you the truth.

EsaiMorales4 karma

My top priority on the bucket list is not to kick it.

JoeMantegna3 karma

Very well-said, my brother!

operation_hennessey3 karma

Are there any projects that you've worked on that you felt went under-the-radar?

JoeMantegna4 karma

The film The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, that we made together. We had a wonderful time. Ray Bradbury's wish was that it would've been dubbed in Spanish. And I really wish that would've happened. Only because it deals with Ray's experiences growing up in the barrio of Los Angeles, these 5 Mexican guys, based on a short story of his, and a play, and it was his favorite film of anything he's EVER WRITTEN - it would be nice if someday they dubbed it into Spanish, because I think the Spanish-speaking community would love the spirit of it.

And Esai is the musical relief in the movie! I love that number!

EsaiMorales2 karma

I'd say this movie called Rapa Nui that I did, which is one of the names of Easter Island - the Bellybutton of the World. It was a movie that Kevin Costner produced, and Kevin Reynolds directed, we shot it on Easter Island, it was an epic $25 million movie in the early 90's, it was about the people there, the native tribe there, and how wars and a lack of environmental consciousness used up all the trees in this race for power to create those giant stone heads, Moai's. It was a pretty incredible movie with myself, a bunch of actors from New Zealand, a pretty cool picture that went under the radar.

And Gun Hill Road by the way - that film deserved a lot more attention that it got.

JoeMantegna2 karma

And "Elvis & Annabelle" - it was another film that I did! Max Mangele - his father was Anthony Mangele, and I played Max's father in the film, it was a Romeo & Juliet story that took place in Texas, Max was my son, a goth kid, and I was the town undertaker, and Blake Lively fell in love with Max - a great movie. It was British-produced, and I just don't know what happened. Just one of those things - when it shows on cable, people say it's so heartwarming, so great - we've all done this! What are you gonna do?

operation_hennessey3 karma

Joe, Have you seen the Red Letter Media video about Baby's Day Out? Or any of the Red Letter Media videos?

JoeMantegna3 karma

I don't know what that means. You're talking to a dinosaur here.

I guess not. No.

JoeMantegna3 karma

I made that movie when I was a child! I don't remember anything about it.

lula24882 karma

What is the most useless advice someone has ever given you?

JoeMantegna9 karma

I read a quote once by - I dunno if he invented the quote - but it's the bicyclist, Armstrong - in his book, there was a quote that he tries to live by, which I've kind of adopted - "Every day's a good day, some days are great."

Because I see a lot of people who, you know, have it a lot worse off than I do, so I try to live by that as much as I can.

IKingJeremy2 karma

Do either of you have any Memorial day family traditions?

JoeMantegna6 karma

Well, I've been doing this concert for 13 years, so it's a Memorial Day tradition for me.