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Sopranos Star Breaks Omertà on Addiction

Joe Pantoliano sings about being an alcohol, prescription drugs, food and sex addict.

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Joe is determined not to lose his head, unlike
his Sopranos character. Photovia

By McCarton Ackerman

04/24/12

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Actor Joe Pantoliano, best known for his roles as Ralph Ciafretto in The Sopranos and Guido the Killer Pimp in Risky Business, is opening up about his addiction-filled past. His new memoir, Asylum: Hollywood Tales From My Great Depression: Mental Dis-Ease, Recovery and Being My Mother's Son, reveals his addictions to alcohol, prescription drugs, food and sex, as well as his  "self-medication" behaviors he dubs the "Seven Deadly Symptoms": food,  vanity, shopping and shoplifting, success, sex, alcohol and prescription drugs. "I became an alcoholic, an addict, a compulsive shopper, a kleptomaniac. And a maniac!" writes the 60-year-old actor. The memoir also talks about his difficult upbringing in a New Jersey household with gambling addictions, alcoholism and ties to organized crime. "The whole point of this is to use myself as an example in giving other people permission to be open and honest about their past," says Pantoliano. These days, Pantoliano has three children with his third wife and is almost entirely sober, save for taking 10 milligrams of an antidepressant and 10 milligrams of a statin for cholesterol. And while he's unable to live off his time on The Sopranos—"I get a $14 check every few months"—Pantoliano is set to star in a New York play with Mario Cantone, Moolah, about two con men who fall out of favor with the mob.

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