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Celebrity Interview is with Joe Mantegna. Tony award winning
actor, nominated for two Emmy's and a Golden Globe, director,
writer and one of the current stars on the hit TV show "Joan of
Arcadia". Joe seems to do it all and seems to do them all very
well. Some of Mr. Mantegna's most memorable roles are Dean Martin
in "The Ratpack", Pippi De Lena "The Last Don" and the voice of
'Fat Tony' on 'The Simpsons". Shotgunworld is excited to bring you
an interview with such a talented man.
Be sure to visit Joe Mantegna's website at
Interview by Mike "MD_Beatt"
Beatty, Shotgunworld.com staff
SGW: Thank you for giving us this opportunity Joe.
First off the bat are you familiar with Shotgunworld?
Joe M: Yes I have actually looked at it in the past
SGW : Can you tell us about how you first got in to Shooting
and the Shotgun sports?
Joe M: I was in my early twenties. In Chicago that’s where I grew
up. There used to be this wonderful Skeet Range Right on Lake Michigan ,
In a beautiful park right near downtown Chicago.
I think it was called Belmont Harbor Shooting Club. They Had these old
Skeet towers that looked like they were built back in the thirties, and
they used to have Skeet shooting right over Lake Michigan there. And it
was this wonderful club, and I used to ride my bike over there in the
summertime. And up to this point understand, I had never shot a gun in
my life but I was always intrigued by it. I would watch these guys shoot
their shotguns, I would just stand there at the fence there and watch
them, and it was such a beautiful setting there with Lake Michigan in
the background. Then one day this one guy was on the other side of the
fence, Was walking from his car carrying a shotgun, walked over by the
fence and said “do you shoot?” I said “No I never done it, I just like
to watch you guys shoot I think it‘s interesting” And he say’s “Well
would you like to shoot?” I said “well I don’t have a shotgun, I don’t
know anything about this, I am just watching” Then he says “Come on you
can shoot with me” I said “Right Now?” he said “yeah right now, just go
ahead and park your bike and come on with me” I said “Well I don’t have
any money, I don’t have anything.” He said “Don’t worry about it just
come with me”
So I go in ,the guy goes back to his car, to his trunk and opens it up,
he has another shotgun back there, and hands it to me, of course at the
time I did not know he had two Perazzi’s. I didn’t know a Perazzi from
Adam at that time. He takes me over, we go into the clubhouse, he gets
the shells, and he treats me to a round of Skeet. He along the way gives
me tips and pointer’s and then we shot a second round. And
he introduces me to several of the people there, and I mean obviously by
that time I am hooked, then I found out he was the president of the
Now this was the most perfect introduction
anyone could have to the shooting sports. Because at the end of those
two rounds I loved it. And of course he wouldn’t take any money,
nothing. He paid for everything the eye wear, the hearing protection. He
said “What do you think?”
I told him I could not wait to get my own shotgun and do this. He
advised me to get a Remington 1100 with a Trap Stock.
At the same time I was doing a play where I had to shoot a handgun, that
was the first time I ever fired a hand gun. I remember to this day I
went out the next day to the same store (where the play had got the
handgun... Shore Galleries). I explained that I wanted a Remington 1100
with a Trap stock. I still have that gun today.
I went back to that gun club a week later with my shotgun. I told the
guy I did it... I did what you told me...so I wound up occasionally
shooting at that club. Unfortunately, a few years later the club fell to
the politics of some do gooders who thought there was too much lead
falling into the lake. It’s just a shame that they tore the place downl.,
but I was hooked from that point on ... on shotgun shooting. That lead
into Sporting Clays and Trap.
SGW: I had read a few years ago in an interview with you where
you had not yet , as of then, shot Trap how do you get into Trap?
Joe M: Well the Trap came later. In other words I started with
Skeet, so that’s what I really got in to. Then I got introduced to
Sporting Clays and really got in to that. I mean Trap was always there,
and I always had an interest in it I just had not had much experience in
it. Then actually one year at the 'Charleston Heston Celebrit' shoot I
actually won a Trap gun..a very nice Trap gun, so I took that as a sign
that I should start getting in to some Trap here. So I started shooting
some Trap, so on an occasion, especially at these events I would get an
occasion to shoot some Trap. Now I enjoy that as well. Skeet was
kind of the first thing that got me into it then Sporting Clays, but I'm
starting to shoot more Trap then I had in the past.
SGW:I my self am a Trap shooter and a little sporting clays, I
guess I have never got up the nerve to walk on the Skeet field.
Joe M: I understand, it’s a different thing I mean this is where
I started, so it's what I got familiar with... and I just shoot Skeet
better. I mean I have cleaned 25 in Skeet . I have never done that in
SGW: When you first started shooting Skeet what was the
biggest problems/bad habits that you had to overcome?
Joe M: Well, I mean I think you find out that gun placement is
real important, and first of all getting the proper gun fit and all that
. And what your shooting is important. I would just say the main thing
is to get good instruction right away, just like in any sport . I found
this to be true in golf, and anything else. Because I also play some
Golf. Is if you can get really good instruction from the beginning, you
can avoid developing lots of bad habits that might come from kind of
winging it on your own, and trying to assume you know what your doing. A
lot of it is also just getting back, I mean I had shot some rifles prior
to that . People think that the first time they shoot a shotgun, that it
is going to be similar to shooting a rifle, kind of like aim at the
target. You have to overcome that belief that a moving target is the
same way as a stationary one. It’s that whole thing of keeping the gun
moving, is always a big factor, and it’s the one habit that you have to
get out of if you have done target shooting. Whether it be pistol or
rifle, shotgun shooting is just a different principal. It’s a different
form of shooting. The same rules don’t apply, but beyond that just
things like fit, and all that, learning about beads, that’s just
something that don’t apply to target shooting. But again if you can
start with some good instruction, you can learn more in just one round
with some one who really knows what they’re doing, Then you can going
out a hundred times on your own.
SGW: Do you shoot all four gauges in Skeet?
Joe M: I have tried them all, I am a little intimidated by the
.410, Because I really don’t need the disappointment . I primarily shoot
12GA, But the second gun I bought was a 20Ga so I have shoot a lot of
Skeet with a 20GA. Then recently I got one of my daughters involved, and
bought her a 28GA, I have all four. So I am prepared to shoot all four.
But I primarily , Because of my work schedule, because I cant go out
shooting as often as I like. I primarily shoot 12GA because I give
myself a little break and then if I can get myself in a groove and start
feeling more confident and go out on a more regular basis. I would think
I would start thinking about playing around with the 20GA and the 28GA.
The .410, like I said, I am always impressed when I see guys that can
really master that gauge, That’s what’s great about the game. Once you
have one thing locked in pretty well, then you can kind of move on to
another gauge, then it becomes a whole new game.
SGW: I know you said your daughter is now shooting, have you
taken your wife, and kids shooting?
Joe M: Well they have all tried it, but my youngest daughter, I
think has taken an interest in it to where I feel good about taking her
out. I look forward to taking her out shooting ...she’s still pretty
young. She’s fourteen .
SGW: You spoke earlier about the club you first shot at being
shut down. We have some members that are fighting to save there gun club
from the do gooders. In your View what would be a solution to that or is
there a solution to that?
Joe M: Well you do what you can. Now here in California I am a
member of a private gun club, so in other words we own the land and we
share it with three other clubs. We have about 80 acres. We control it
and we own it. We at least avoid the problem of someone stepping in and
saying well this can't happen, as far as we can tell at this point.
There is always going to be that constant battle between people that
don’t quite understand what the sport is. I guess the only solution is,
if people are really serious about it They have to make sure they can
get control of the property and designate it for shooting. And then
maintain it, you know its difficult to count on outside forces to always
be there, and be sympathetic. That club in Chicago was on Park district
land and the shooter there had no control. They were at the whims of
government . On the other hand there is a range here in California
called Oak Tree that was just recently purchased by a gentleman. I mean
it was a nice range, but it was getting kind of run down. It was in a
part of L.A. where property values were going up and I could almost see
it coming where the guy was going to have to bail and sell it to some
developers. Then this guy stepped in who is a very wealthy man. He
single handily bought the whole property. Then invested a couple million
dollars into it, and turned it in to a first class Skeet, Trap, Sporting
Clays field. Just built upon what was already there, and it's great. It
is a really terrific shooting facilities now and it's within 30 minutes
SGW: What do you feel is the best way to bring new people in
to the shotgun sports?
Joe M: I think education, and what that guy did for me every
shooter has a responsibility to propagate the shooting sports. Start
with the youths and be able to say "look your going to get a lot of
weird images, people of different factions are going to tell you that
guns are evil, and this and that and the other. And guns can be used for
evil purposes but that’s got nothing to do with the shooting sports. I
mean you can use a chainsaw for evil purposes. That doesn’t mean its an
evil tool. So you just have to be exposed to it in the proper way."
We have an event coming up here in June that we do every year. It's the
"Hollywood Celebrity Shoot" which is really a nice thing, and they are
very tied in to youth shooting programs as well. He used to have the
Charleston Hesston Shoot years ago, but Mr. Hesston got ill and he
could not support that much any more. So now its been renamed the
Hollywood Celebrity Shoot and I am very active in that. Once a year we
all get together and that’s a good way to get a lot of press on it.
I think it’s a way of showing that this is a pretty interesting sport.
You know we are not all these madmen running around shooting guns.
It’s a disciplined and organized sporting event . People like Robert Stack
...the Late Robert Stack.... who was a great ambassador for the sport. That’s
just what we need to do... to propagate the sport in the best possible
light and the best possible way. That way people understand that it is a
viable recreation . One argument I won't accept is when people who have
never shot a gun are opposed to it. I say well look lets do this, I will
meet you half way, you just come with me once let me expose you to it.
If you still don’t like it fine, but you at least have to experience it
first to know what you are talking about.
Nine out of ten times, when I offer people that opportunity, it will turn
their head completely 100% around.
Let alone a person that has no feeling about it, and then you expose
them to it, usually their hooked right away. Very often I have had
people that were absolutely negative against it all of a sudden, once
expose to it, go "you know this isn’t what I thought the shooting
sports were all about". I think that’s what we need
SGW: Do you Reload your own shells?
Joe M: I do, I reload all of my own 12 GA, I don’t have all the
other dyes for all the other Gauges. But I load all my 12 GA.
SGW: Do you do it to get just the right load, or is it more of
a hobby ?
Joe M: I do it for enjoyment, I really do, because to be honest
with you, I am fortunate enough with my career I can afford to buy any
ammo I want to. But I learned early on when I could not afford it... when
I was really hooked on the sport... a friend of mine who was an avid
shooter and a wonderful teacher... and was a wonderful shooter was into it
in a very big way. He was a guy that did not have a lot of money or
anything , so he was always very frugal about how he spent his money. So
he was totally in to reloading of every thing. He would reload pistol
rounds, rifle rounds, shotgun shells. He is the one who got me in to it,
and so early on he helped me in terms of buying a press, and all the
equipment , and all the stuff I would need. I mean literally setup in
my garage. I have powder, I have hulls, I have wads, and shot. So at any
given moment I can go down in my garage. I find it very relaxing and
very rewarding to be able to load my own . I don’t know enough about it
to get real creative or start changing loads that he preset for me years ago. I
still load that same load.
SGW: would you say that cost is the biggest challenge to
new/younger shooters entering the sport?
Joe M: I would say cost is a factor, but you know any
recreational sport is expensive, look at Golf for example. You have to
buy the equipment then if you want to play at any decent course, it is
going to cost you a lot of money. It is a factor, but there are more
economical ways to shoot. You can buy a used shotgun. Invest in some
used equipment, learn to reload. And a round of Skeet or a round of Trap
, I don’t think is much more than bowling. The biggest expense after the
shotgun is the ammo.
It is a factor, but thats not really going to change. I would not say
it’s like being a polo player or something like that.
SGW: Are you a gun collector, or do you mainly buy guns that you
plan on shooting a lot?
Joe M: My guns are pretty much shooting guns. I don’t have a
shotgun today that I would not take out and shoot. I don’t have any
antique shotguns or anything like that. I have plenty of other antique
firearms. My shotguns are mainly for shooting. Maybe down the line if I
had the time and space I might get in to the collecting part of it. I
think of guns more as working implements or tools. So when I am
impressed by a shotgun it is something more that I am anxious to shoot
as opposed to something to put away.
SGW: What are your main shooting shotguns?
Joe M: My main shooting shotguns are Beretta O/Us, I have
Sporting Clay ones that are designated for Sporting Clays, some what,
but they can be used for other sports depending on how I choke them, but
my main gun is a Beretta Super Sport, and then I have a Browning Trap
gun with the high rib. I also have a Winchester pump and I have a
Remington 1100, Charles Daly in 28 GA and a Charles Daly in 12GA.
I know the President of the Charles Daly Company, so I am partial lately
to the Charles Daly. My main gun is the Beretta, but lately I have had
the opportunity to shoot a Perazzi. The very first shotgun I ever shot
was a Perazzi. I did not shoot another Perazzi for over twenty years,
but I was out recently and was able to shoot a friends Perazzi. I really
liked that gun. I think there might be one in my future.
SGW: what would you say is your favorite thing about the
Joe M: Part of it is the camaraderie. Part of it is that little
society of shooters that we all are a part of and also to be in the
outdoors. Really, the same thing I like about golf....to get out there
with people that have a like interest. It’s really that I mean.... were
a fraternity.... it is a fraternity of shooters. In other words, we are
people that share this common interest and when we all get together and
do it, there is a certain kind of enjoyment in that. To be able to just
forget about everything else and talk about this thing we are doing.
It’s primitive in a way. In other words its going back to a time when
you feel like your doing something guys did 100 years ago. The shooting
sports go all the way back to the invention of firearms. So there is a
certain tradition to that. I love shooting outdoors. I mean once I moved
to California from Chicago I spent a lot of time shooting pistols and
such at indoor ranges. Once I realized there were outdoor ranges that
were designed for all kinds of shooting, like the range I belong to, we
are able to shoot anything there from pistols, rifles, shotguns...and a
variety of games. I love the outdoors, and that aspect of it. Like I
said the camaraderie of it. The fact that people from all walks of life,
from Doctors, lawyers, actors, and plumbers, truck drivers, farmers, etc
we're all equal when we are out on the range.
SGW: Speaking of actors and Hollywood, have you had to deal
with a lot of Anti-Gun bias?
Joe M: Well there is anti gun bias everywhere. I think what
happens is with show business the anti gun crowd get more press, just
because it is show business and in the public eye on a larger scale. But
I don’t know if there is any more or less in my business than any other
walk of life. So of course I am aware of it and I know that there are
people in my business that frown on this whole thing, and think its bad
and should be stopped and whatever. But all I can say is there are those
of us also that feel otherwise. We propagate the sport and do what we do
to show there is no real reason to be Anti . If you don’t agree with it
personally then fine then don’t do it, but that’s no reason to be
against others doing it. That’s like there are people who are anti
hunting because they have certain feelings about animals. Yet if they
had a real knowledge about what hunting was about , that hunters for the
most part are the reason a lot of this wildlife exists , they might
understand it a little differently...but then a lot of is just education.
SGW: A couple members of shotgun world wanted me to ask you,
what you think of Hollywood actors that come out as being against the
2nd amendment , yet then go out and make violent shoot them up movies?
Joe M: Exactly I think it is totally hypocritical. I absolutely
think that’s hypocritical. It is the old it’s "ok for me, but not for
you". In other words they should follow through with their beliefs 100%
and not make these types of movies.
That’s why I am doing this interview with you right now. I make no bones
about my enjoyment of these sports and gun ownership and I don’t care
what anybody else thinks about it. You know people read an interview
with Joe Mantegna saying how much he likes shooting shotguns, and that
bothers them, So be it. I think that you would find a contingency of
people here in Hollywood that own guns and shoot. But are very low
profile about it and wont talk about it. They do worry that they don’t
want an image attached to them. I think that’s unfortunate.
There was a politician out here in L.A. who was one of the biggest anti
2nd amendment people going... I forget his name and it was a while back...
and it turns out that somebody was in his back yard and he thought it
was a burglar and he shot him. And this was a guy that was trying to Ban
Ownership of handguns in L.A. period. And he winds up shooting a guy. He
did not kill him but wound the guy in the leg. The hypocrisy of it makes
me a little upset
SGW: In your Role as a supreme court Justice in First Monday
in October, you came down in support of the 2nd Amendment.
Joe M: Yes as you saw I supported the 2nd, when the producer of
the show came up with the idea for that episode. I told him it’s a good
idea, but my character has got to come down on the side of the 2nd. I
think it was a first for CBS to do a show where the lead actor on a show
ultimately promoted the 2nd.
SGW: I know a lot of our members here have a pretty good sense
of humor, So I wanted to ask you about one of your best roles. Fat Tony
on the Simpson’s. How did that come about?
Joe M: Well it was almost 15 years ago when they first came to me
to do an episode of the Simpson’s . They asked me to come in and do just
one episode . I had done a lot of gangster type roles like in the
Godfather3 and the last Don, so I thought this would be fun to kind of
parody . I liked the show so I went and did the one episode. I had no
idea that it would resonate like it has. The Fans of the show and the
writers liked Fat Tony so well that they keep bring him back.
Matter of fact I just finished up three episodes of the Simpson’s that
will air this season. It’s all in good fun, it’s a good character so I
keep doing it.
SGW: what are some of your other projects that are coming up
Joe M: Well I have the movie Uncle Nino, it’s out in the Chicago
area right now in fact, and it’s a independent film I filmed in Chicago
about two years ago. It also has my daughter in it, (the one that now
Then I am continuing on Joan of Arcadia. I have a film called the Kid
and I , with Tom Arnold and a film... another independent film... called
Nine Lives that will be
coming out. So I keep busy, and I still read the books on tape, I do all
the Robert Parker “Spenser” books.
SGW: Well Joe I really appreciate you giving us a small bit of
your time to do this interview.
Joe M: Oh it’s my pleasure, I think it’s a good website, I love
the shotgun sports the best out of all the shooting sports. I have met
wonderful people by taking part in the shotgun sports.
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