Hi Reddit! John Ventimiglia here. I am new to this, so ~bare~ bear with me and I will try to respond to as many questions as I can.

A little about me -- You may know me as Artie Bucco from The Sopranos. I've been in many other films, tv shows and live productions. My latest project is titled Ponies, which is opening up this Friday in New York at Cinema Village.

Here's the trailer for Ponies -- www.poniesthefilm.com -- I'd love to hear your thoughts on it! You can also follow the Ponies film on Twitter and Facebook.

So, here we go. Ask me anything.

EDIT -- Here's my pic.

EDIT2 -- Thanks for all of the good questions. This was a blast! If your in New York, come see Ponies at Cinema Village. Someday you can say that you were there when. Plus, we would all appreciate your support. Thanks again!

Comments: 605 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

Pollum268 karma

First and foremost, thank you SO much for your contributions to The Sopranos. Artie was a neat character, and you really nailed the angle of him walking a fine line of respect and fear in regards to Tony, which was absolutely pivotal for the development of both characters in early seasons. This is a really clichéd thing to say, but The Sopranos really changed my life, and I owe you and the rest of the cast and crew a lot of gratitude. It helped me through a very dark time in my life and completely altered the way I look at things and approach my life altogether. I would go on talking about how much I adore the show and why, but I do not want to waste your (and other redditors’) time.

My questions are:

  • After the show ended, did they let you keep any props? If so, what were they?
  • How long would an episode typically take to film?
  • Were you ever injured on set?
  • Were you close to any of the cast members, and do you keep in touch with any of them?
  • Is there anything interesting that went on behind the scenes during filming that most people wouldn’t know?

Thank you very much for giving us fans insight and an opportunity to speak with you, and more importantly, thank you for your contributions to the show.

JohnVentimiglia224 karma

Thanks for the kind words.

  1. Yes, they did let me keep a couple of things. The bell that Artie used to ring when the food was ready. A giant wooden spoon. A menu from Vesuvio. The robe Artie was wearing when he shot the rabbit. Four Artie chef jackets. Also, two of Big Pussy's jumpsuits and a red jacket that belonged to Richie.

  2. They started about eight days, but towards the end they could take up to two weeks.

  3. When Benny shoved Artie's hand in the pot. I did burn my knuckles on the bottom of the pot the first two times. Then they turned the flame off, and used dry ice.

  4. Michael Imperioli and I met in acting school when he was 17 and I was 19. We were very close then, and remain close today. Steve Schirrippa and I are very often in touch. Steve Buscemi and I took in a show the other night. Loraine, Tony Scirocco, Aida, etc.. Really, we all have a bond now that will never be forgotten.

  5. A lot of eating. There was a group of us that would go out together at night. We went to each others birthday parties, baptisms, funerals.. Some of us got to travel together. We were like a family.

DrTweed33 karma

Any reason you kept Pussy's jumpsuits (besides the fact that they're awesome?)

JohnVentimiglia231 karma

Just mementos from the show. I used one to dress up as Ali G for Halloween one time.

[deleted]151 karma


JohnVentimiglia458 karma

PMing you now.

RichRedundantRich109 karma

Your wife had great cans and Adriana was stupid. Curse you for straying.

JohnVentimiglia157 karma

Sometimes, Artie wanted what he couldn't have. Mid-Life crisis.

PrettyBoyFloyd88 karma

  1. What were your thoughts on the series finale of The Sopranos?

  2. Tell me about Ponies.. What is it, and why should I go see it?

JohnVentimiglia201 karma

  1. I thought it was the first time that you saw someone being killed on film, from the inside. Usually in a ganster film, you see them get shot, fall down and die. In this, we were all such a part of Tony, that in my opinion, David let us be part of Tony's death. Lights out. End of Story.

  2. Ponies is a movie about three immigrants that are betting together at an OTB, off-track betting. It's based on a play, and an interesting take on the American Dream. It's an interesting study of the society we find ourselves living in sometimes through well-drawn characters.

barnsleyfan12351 karma

So Tony definitely dies then?

JohnVentimiglia151 karma

Nobody told me. Not the writers or the producers. I think they wanted to leave it for ourselves. And that was what I decided.

Among the cast, there was a lot debate. Some thought it was a beautiful ending, and some disagreed.

MyFriendsSuck73 karma

How do you feel about rampart?

JohnVentimiglia67 karma

I love Oren Moverman, and I'm a huge fan of his work.

paranoidbillionaire60 karma

Just wanted to stop in and say that your hand gestures were the definitive method for any up-and-coming Italian modeled actor to aspire to. My family is Italian, and you nailed the exaggerations perfectly.

Thanks for taking the time to do this. I've got a bottle of Chianti here in front of me, so allow me to say, cento di questi giorni!

JohnVentimiglia81 karma

I appreciate your understanding of the hand gestures. We both know what an intrinsic part of the language they are. Tanti saluti!

thrillmatic57 karma

HUGE fan; lifetime Jersey resident and I can practically recite the series from memory.

1) Are you good at cooking in real life?

2) What was your favorite scene to film?

3) How do you interpret the ending? Consensus seems to suggest Tony dies, but I'd like to hear your take on it.


JohnVentimiglia110 karma

  1. Yes. My parents are both from Sicily. I grew up helping my mom cook in the kitchen, and when I moved out, she taught me a couple of basic things I need to know...which I still cook for my kids

  2. One of my favorites was the food fight that Tony and I had. I hit him with a piece of prosciutto and he hit me with a mozzarella ball, which bounced off my head. From there, it just turned into two kids having a fun food fight.

  3. Here's my thoughts on the ending.. The only way I could interpret the ending, is that Tony was shot and killed. After all, he was a human being involved in a business in which this was not an uncommon event. I think that David chose to end it that way, out of some kind of dignity for the character. And also to let us take part in what it's like which I would assume is often instant blackout. It was a clean kill, and for all of us fans, it seemed like a merciful way to say goodbye.

Chuggo40 karma

That's actually a really cool interpretation of the ending. I had just looked at it like a cliffhanger, but dying through the eyes of Tony is fantastic. I never thought of it that way.

JohnVentimiglia45 karma

I appreciate it. I don't think David would do anything just for effect.

onowahoo35 karma

Are you a redditor? You seem pretty competent considering you linked to a previous comment’s permalink!

JohnVentimiglia97 karma

No, but I have a family friend helping me because I'm a slow typer. And he's a redditor.

joselito_349 karma

How's your rash?

JohnVentimiglia58 karma


leaveallyouhave2346 karma

can we get some proof? like a picture of you with a sign that says "hi, reddit" and the date? it's kind of a tradition...

JohnVentimiglia130 karma

I'm cool with traditions.


BaronVonNostril38 karma

You are in Cop Land which is a great underrated movie. Why was your scene so short? Did you have any scenes that were cut out?

JohnVentimiglia60 karma

Yes. I was on the film for eleven weeks. It's just one of those things about making films, in the end, it's not about performance, it's about what's best for the story.

Crasty37 karma

Do you get tired of people asking if you are related to Milo? (He's not)

JohnVentimiglia52 karma

Not at all. We've asked each other that question.

His family comes from the same part of Sicily that mine does. And he, himself, resembles certain members of my own family.

[deleted]35 karma


JohnVentimiglia179 karma

Whenever somebody meets me, they usually tell me how much different I am, or how much younger I seem in person. But of course, I posses some of the same qualities as Artie. Basic human things like occasionally short-tempered, occasionally over-dramatic, and a part of me is very traditional. I am, after all, Sicilian.

I created Artie out of a composite of three influences -- 1) The landlord in Godfather II who can't get out the door when he realizes that DeNiro is the Don. 2) One of my uncles. 3) My grandfathers mustache.

Skippy_McFitz33 karma

Sopranos is my all-time favorite TV show. I find myself rewatching it almost every year and it still has everything I could ask for in a series.

In the series, how much did you draw on your experiences growing up in New Jersey? Do you have any real-life mafioso or tough-guy stories?

JohnVentimiglia72 karma

I have met a few, but I won't give names. Most of them knew me from the show, and made themselves known to me.

One guy, pretty old, sat and had coffee with, got teary-eyed talking about his mom, the good ole days. Another guy showed me where Joey Gallo shot him in the hand when he put his hand up to protect himself. Surprisingly, a lot of these guys have wives and girlfriends named cookie and kitty.

High_On_Cortexiphan32 karma

Are there actual ponies in Ponies or just horses?

If there are ponies, are they large ponies or little ponies?

JohnVentimiglia43 karma

No, unfortunately, there were no ponies in Ponies. But, Ponies is a term used for racing horses.

"Playing the Ponies!"

tragic-waste-of-skin31 karma

Hey John, loved your work on The Sopranos.  I just wanted to ask you about your character.

Why was Artie Bucco such a pussy?  He let Tony walk all over him, burned his business down, allowed Benny to rip of his customers with that floozy Martina, loses 50 k to a conman, tries to kill himself and then Tony uses this excuse to wipe his tab to get the money back knowing all along Artie would fail and yet Artie still thought of him as his best friend?  Was he glad when Tony got whacked?

JohnVentimiglia73 karma

Because Artie is a trusting person. Like any family-type relationships, things can get a bit dysfunctional sometimes. Also, Artie is a very complicated person. He's over emotional. He's got balls. And he's not in the mob, so sometimes he's a little out of his league. Overall Tony loved him the best he could.

And no, of course not. He was devastated that Tony got whacked.

AWESOMEBreakfast31 karma

Hey John, thanks so much for taking the time to do this.

  1. What was the strangest thing that happened on set on The Sopranos?

  2. What was it like working with Kevin Corrigan on Ponies?

JohnVentimiglia42 karma

  1. Nothing really stands out as strange, but of course, when making movies things can be chaotic at times. If anything is strange, it's how so many people can be so close and enjoy each others company for so long, in a work environment.

  2. I've known Kevin for a long time. I've gotten to work with him before. I really admire his talents. As well as admire his person. He's a great actor, and that always helps you to be better. We were lucky to have him.

barnsleyfan12331 karma

Who do you feel was the biggest death on the show? I'd have to say either Adriana or Christopher

JohnVentimiglia74 karma

Well, assuming that Tony was not killed, I would have to agree that it was Christopher.

Sly_Ripper26 karma

What's your favourite memory from on the set of The Sopranos?

JohnVentimiglia116 karma

Among many favorite memories, one comes to mind where Tony was meant to slap Artie, and they had a stunt person working with us on how to do a fake slap for the camera. When we took a break, Jimmy and I were having a cigarette, and I turned to him and I said "Why don't you just slap me." And he laughingly said "I knew you were going to fuckin' say that".

Of course, at the time. I didn't take into account how many times he was going to have to slap me -- and his hands are big and heavy. The first time he slapped me, my head bounced off the column in the restaurant. But it was worth it.

ghost193724 karma

You had such an awesome, complicated character on The Sopranos and you played him perfectly. It was a pleasure to watch.

  1. How often were you afraid of being killed off on The Sopranos?

  2. You have a lot of acting experience: do you have a favorite experience in your career?

JohnVentimiglia50 karma


  1. I actually turned down The Sopranos at the beginning of the second season, because I had young kids and they wanted me to "just be available". But, I wanted the steady work, so David called me to tell me how much he appreciated me and Artie. He asked me to just hang in there and be patient, and I did. At the beginning of the third season, David did make me a regular. When a character got whacked, we referred to it as getting the other side of the pencil. And I'm grateful to David for keeping me on the right side of the pencil.

  2. Getting a chance to work with Tony Curtis. Not only because he's so legendary, but because that's what I called myself as a child. It was my private action hero name for myself, and I thought I made the name up. Another would be the long rehearsal process of The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui. Look up the cast. Wow!

HouseRuleNumber423 karma

Not really a question but I'll never ever ever forget you getting your earring ripped out in the fight with Jean-Phillippe. Sometimes I wonder if they really ripped it out, you did such a good job with the pain. Out of all of the violence in The Sopranos, that is the one time I had to pause and walk away for a little bit.

JohnVentimiglia46 karma

It was a magnetic earring. Didn't hurt a bit. Thank you!

JohnWad22 karma

What was the best dish you served at Vesuvio? I really enjoyed you on the Sopranos.

JohnVentimiglia73 karma

Let's see. I have a Vesuvio menu sitting right here next to me.

Lasagnette al Rag di Vitello (Curly Fettuccini in Veal Sauce). Linguini with Clams is also a killer as well.

And of course, that rabbit.

msnider22 karma

John, how did you get involved in Ponies initially, and what drew you to that project?

JohnVentimiglia36 karma

I was asked to do the play by Michael Imperioli and Nick Sandow, and I couldn't say no to them.

EFX20 karma

What is your favorite book?

JohnVentimiglia103 karma

That's hard. I have more than one, but the first two that comes to mind are Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Clockwork Orange by Antony Burgess.

Also a big fan of Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, among others.

baksteen4 karma

How long did it take you to understand the language of Clockwork Orange?

JohnVentimiglia27 karma

I had to keep referring to the glossary. When I was done reading it the first time, I instantly went back to page one and read it again. The film is also one of the greatest interpretations of the book that I've seen.

msnider17 karma

What was the difference between working on a small budged indie like Ponies and a big budget TV show like the Sopranos?

JohnVentimiglia37 karma

The Sopranos had better food and trailers, but when it comes to the work, they're both pretty much the same. Ponies was very much like The Sopranos, we had a great script and a tight-knit crew, and that's always a great environment to work in.

sterlingarcher006916 karma

What would be your last meal?

What do you think of people who eat spaghetti with a knife and fork?

If you were to "whack" someone, who would it be?

JohnVentimiglia57 karma

Definitely something my mother would make. Probably a dozen of my mother's homemade manicotti.

If you're cutting it up for a child, that's ok.

My neighbor has a very noisy, small dog... But I'm gonna give it a pass, for now.

JohnVentimiglia71 karma

Thank you very much. I yam what I eat.

AWESOMEBreakfast13 karma

If you could describe Ponies in one word, what would it be? The trailer looks amazing.

What was it like working on Ponies? And what was the body of water you were in?

JohnVentimiglia31 karma

Chance, comes to mind. Because it implies opportunity, but also implies taking a risk.

Working on Ponies was a total labor of love. We shot long days, and also working with Nick Sandow, who is one of my dearest friends and collaborators, was just great. And I can't speak highly enough about the cast and crew.

The body of water was the Hudson River, which is much cleaner than people think it is. And did you know that there are bioluminescence in the Hudson?

sushib8913 karma

Is Devon Aoki as ridiculously attractive as she looks on screen? Also whats she like to work with/what's she like as an actress?

After watching the trailer for Ponies I was wondering how you got into character playing, what looks like, a paranoid addicted gambler?

JohnVentimiglia29 karma

Yes. And she's also a wonderful person. She's professional and sweet.

I've seen a lot of people like that in my life and in movies. I study behavior, so it's just like playing make believe. It's like what kids do, they pretend to be someone else.

boardgameben11 karma

The episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories you did, did that legitimately happen, or were you given a spooky story to tell?

JohnVentimiglia45 karma

what do you think?

Chuggo11 karma

I've heard chatter there would possibly be a Sopranos movie. Is there any truth to that at all?

(Now that I've heard your take on the ending this would seem even more unlikely)

JohnVentimiglia27 karma

As far as I know, it seems unlikely.

Stratten10 karma

Ponies. I saw this trailer on Deadline the other day. It's good to see you here talking about it now.

What about the character Drazen stood out to you?

Did you write it or was the script just sent to you?

JohnVentimiglia17 karma

Thanks for your questions!

  1. That he was someone that came from a war-torn country. He probably had to do some things that he's not proud of to survive. And how that translates into how he see's himself, even in this society.

  2. Ponies was originally a play, produced by Michael Imperioli and directed by Nick Sandow. Michael also filled in for the actor whom originally played the character of Wallace (Kevin Corrigan's character) who left to do a movie. We just get a real kick out of working together. A couple of years later, Nick felt strongly that it would make a good film. I thought it was timely in terms of what it means to be a foreigner in this country, especially today trying to achieve the so-called American Dream amongst so much fear and suspicion.

Dont_Need_Karma10 karma

Are you worried that Benny Fazio might be looking for you?

JohnVentimiglia20 karma

I ran into him at a screening a couple of weeks ago. We hugged and were happy to see each other. He introduced me to his mother. But there might be other Benny Fazio's out there. You never know.

msnider9 karma

How did you feel about playing a character outside the usual Italian-American typecast? Was it liberating? What did you have to do to get into/prepare for that role?

JohnVentimiglia17 karma

I assume you're talking about my character in Ponies. Yes, it was liberating. But any good role is.

parsimonious_instead9 karma

I remember a scene early in the series in which you were going to kill Tony with a bolt-action rifle. Do you have any experience with firearms? Have you ever gone hunting?

JohnVentimiglia25 karma

I've never gone hunting. The only experience I have with weapons is for film and television.