By Lars Dalseide | July 12 2012 07:27

From stage to screen to tv for firearms enthusiast Mantegna

Chicago actor Joe Mantegna filmed segments of his new show Gun Stories at the National Firearms Museum's. While here, he provided a little insight on the state of his show and the entertainment industry.

Joe Mantegna taking aim inside the NRA MuseumThe entertainment landscape has changed over the last few years. While blockbuster movies continue capturing weekend headlines, the ever favorite home game version known has television has built a never before seen stable of stars and material. A fact that was abundantly clear for veteran actor Joe Mantegna when offered a spot on CBS' Criminal Minds.

"When the opportunity came along to join Criminal Minds, after Mandy (Patinkin) left the show, I don't know if I was the first choice," said Mantegna. "I know there was talk of Harvey Keitel as a choice and Geena Davis too. What ultimately happened is that they made a decision and, lucky for me, asked me to do it."

Starting his career on the stage, one might assume (as did I) that there might be some hesitation when Joe was asked to do television. In years past, such a move was considered a death nail to an actors career. No more. Especially for someone like Joe.

"40 years ago there was a thing where you were a film actor, a tv actor, or a theater actor," Mantegna explained. "For the first 15 years of my career I never did anything but plays … Broadway included. I was able to get into the film business because I was successful there.

"What medium they show it on makes no difference to me. They say action and they say cut. I don't act differently for a movie then I do for television."

Joe Mantegna with a shotgun in the NRA Museum

Superman, Batman, some man or some other Super Hero

What television provides that movies never do is stability. Nine to ten months out of the year with a steady home life of heading to the set in the morning, working throughout the day, and going home at night. No gallivanting around the world to exotic locations filled with unfamiliar faces, foreign foods, and a family begging for your return.

That's what made it easy for Joe to make the move. That and the quality of the scripts.

"I looked at the episodes and was excited because it is a very well written," Mantegna said. "Now a days we have better writers in television then at any other time in the business. Sure there are wonderful movies every year, but you're talking about a handful of writers who make a living that way. So where do all the great writers write? They can't get their movies made unless they're writing about Superman, Batman, some man or some other Super Hero. The days of F. Scott Fitzgerald writing for the movies are few and far between."

The medium my Mother watches

Joe Mantegna peers into the monitor during filming
After 111 episodes on Criminal Minds, Joe still has the desire to push on. An ever developing character, a great ensemble case along with ample side projects (including Outdoor Channel's Gun Stories) makes the drive easy to find. The fact that Mom approves makes it even easier.

"We have great writers and I have great respect for the medium," said Mantegna. "It's the medium my mother watches so I feel really good about it. I'm thrilled to be on Criminal Minds and I'm glad we're continuing."

Read more about Mantegna's visit to the National Firearms Museum:
Agent Rossi returns to National Firearms Museum
Another day with Joe at the Firearms Museum
Chicago's Mantegna inside the Petersen Gallery
Mantegna finds benefits in filming Gun Stories


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