Each week, journalist and host Stephanie Stephens celebrates healthy living with a famous figure age 45+.
Joe Mantegna is familiar to us all as FBI supervisory special agent David Rossi on CBS’s hit drama Criminal Minds and as the host of Outdoor Channel’s Gun Stories. He’s an in-demand actor, producer, writer, director, voice actor—and successful restaurateur.
Mantegna received both the Tony and Joseph Jefferson Awards for his role in David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross, directed the author’s Lakeboat for stage and screen, and starred in Mamet films House of Games, Homicide, and Things Change. Fast friends, Mantegna and Mamet started out together as actors in the Chicago theater scene in the 1970s, before Mamet became a playwright. Mantegna has appeared in more than 100 films total, including The Godfather III, Bugsy and Searching for Bobby Fisher. He conceived and co-wrote the Off-Broadway play Bleacher Bums, which was subsequently produced for television.
You’ve heard him as Fat Tony on The Simpsons and in the movie CARS2. Two years ago, Mantegna, now 66, was appointed as national spokesperson to champion fundraising for the future National Museum of the United States Army in Fort Belvoir, Va. His popular Taste Chicago restaurant serves up an authentic Italian beef sandwich and good times in Burbank, Calif.
Here, Mantegna serves up his own health philosophies for Mind Your Body.
Joe, you look terrific. How are you doing?
At this age, things start to sneak up on you, even while I still have to kick doors down and chase people on TV! I believe in “everything in moderation, including moderation.” I don’t deny myself anything at this point. I didn’t get the chromosomes—I’m not an addictive person. I don’t really drink, I don’t smoke and have never been someone who got hooked. That means I don’t have to give anything up.
What about diet?
As long as I can fit in my last season’s costumes, it’s all good. That’s how I gauge myself and I just try to maintain. I’m in fairly decent shape for what I do and who I am. If I “go crazy” on Tuesday, I lighten up on Wednesday. I try to keep it all in balance.
And physical activity?
For the last 23 years, I’ve lived in a two-story house, and so I often run up the stairs—an opportunity. I spend a good portion of the day going up and down. If I’m in a building that’s three stories, I walk up the stairs. If I’m traveling—and there’s somewhere I can walk—I’ll do that or take a bicycle. I used to go to the gym, but don’t feel the need now. I felt I spent too much time chatting with other people about what we do for a living. I’m not going to do Rambo movies.
Criminal Minds is an “active show” and we have a trailer full of gym equipment. I would be lying if I said I make great use of that, even though I have the capability and opportunity.
Did you get good genes?
My mother will be 99 soon and is in good shape, and she doesn’t stress much or get wound up. I’ve never had a weight problem and no major health problems. My advice: Pick good parents.
What could you do better for yourself?
I’m not a very disciplined person; I am a procrastinator. But I try not to stress. I got to play Dean Martin in the Rat Pack. He seemed to just groove through life, nice and easy—even when his son died.
Things happen that we can’t avoid—don’t sweat the little things. I work on that, but am not totally successful. I think, “This too shall pass.”
How does working in entertainment affect you and your health?
We can be the vainest people in the world with heightened self-awareness. People can see how we’ve aged. It’s a very public profession. I’ve had to age and mature from boy to man and older man in front of everybody. It’s about that image we project, so we’re more body-conscious, more health conscious. Sometimes people say, “You look so much younger, and better, in person.” It’s kind of a back-handed compliment. “In person” is what’s important. But I’m an actor, and that’s what defines me. I’m blessed to have this job, for there’s no age limit to it.
How’s the restaurant business? I really can’t wait to try it soon.
My wife, Arlene, and I opened it in 2003. We’re so glad we did, because it’s been great and fulfilled a dream. It’s a haven for Chicagoans in L.A.
You have a close family, don’t you? Two daughters, Mia and Gia…
Yes, we have two adult children and the oldest, Mia, who’s 27, has autism. My life revolves around my family and I really value my personal life.
Thank you, Joe, for all the ways you use your celebrity to help others, and to help causes.
Stephanie Stephens, M.A. is a spokesperson, host and consultant for the active mature female demographic—midlife and boomer. She writes, produces, and hosts her multimedia channel, Mind Your Body TV, featuring timely health and lifestyle blogs, podcasts, and videos—also seen on YouTube and syndicated by AOL/On.