I'm originally from New Jersey, and although I haven't lived there in a number of years, I still feel a sense of pride having been born and raised there. Well, perhaps "pride" is a bit of a stretch, but I'm certainly not ashamed, or at least as much as I used to be.
For the most part New Jersey seems to get a bad rap. There's that tired "what exit" joke and the "Joisy" accent everyone's supposed to have (I've never actually heard anyone sound like that by the way). And although some of Jersey's reputation might be warranted (I don't know how high the state ranks in terms of pollution generation but we're probably right up there), I wanted to find some new and hopefully good things about NJ, so I thought I'd explore the Garden State's contribution to Hollywood.
Sure, we've unleashed onto the world our fair share of bad actors – both Tara Reid and Kirsten Dunst come from NJ – but we've also produced many great ones. Hope Davis, Ed Harris, Peter Dinklage, and Frank Langella were all born in New Jersey.
And how about multiple award winners? Kevin Spacey,
Michael Douglas, and the Oscar queen herself Meryl Streep all come from NJ.
Look how happy she is to be from NJ
Perhaps it's not surprising that New Jersey is the home of a lot of actors who went on to notoriety playing mobsters. We got a couple of GOODFELLAS: Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta, as well as Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini. Other Jersey-born Sopranos actors include Vince Curatola ("Johnny Sack"), Tony Lip ("Carmine"), and Joe Pantoliano ("Ralph"). And if you're wondering why I didn't count Steven Van Zandt, he of Bruce Springsteen's (Jersey native) E Street Band, although he has lived in NJ, he was born in Massachusetts. That's right, I did my research. Incidentally Joey Pants' GOONIES co-star Kerri Green is also from NJ.
And speaking of the mafia, we also got Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.
You want child stars? We got two – count 'em two – Cosby kids: Keshia Knight Pulliam ("Rudy") and Malcolm-Jamal Warner ("Theo"). Plus Danny Pintauro (the kid from Who's the Boss?), Frankie Muniz, Kevin Jonas, and child-actor-turned-acquitted-murderer Robert Blake. Okay, not a
high point but at least it's only one Jonas brother.
Also from NJ. The one on the right.
And how about some funny people? Flip Wilson, Jerry Lewis, and Abbot and Costello all hail from NJ. More recent humorous Jersey-ites include Jay Mohr, Jeanne Garafolo, and Chelsea Handler.
We got a couple of Seinfeld alumni: Jason Alexander and Patrick Warburton, that's right, Puddy.
We got a guy who tangled with a giant shark and won (Roy Scheider, JAWS), a guy who tangled with John McClane and lost (John Amos, DIE HARD 2), a kid who effed a pie (Jason Biggs, AMERICAN PIE), and a kid who liked effing virgins (Leo Fitzpatrick, KIDS).
We have musicians turned actors: Queen Latifah, Ice-T, Jon Bon Jovi, and Whitney Houston and an actor who tried (unsuccessfully) to be a musician: John Travolta.
You want hotties? Christina Ricci, Laura Prepon ("Donna", That 70's Show), and Zoe Saldana ("Uhura" in the new STAR TREK) were all born in NJ. And for the ladies, I don't know, Paul Rudd maybe. Or how about that dreamboat Danny DeVito?
And there have been several notable films that took place
First his head, then the NJ Turnpike
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH ("You see the world through John Malkovich's eyes. Then after about 15 minutes, you're spit out into a ditch on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike!")
CLERKS, the infamous extremely-low budget film was shot in New Jersey. Kevin Smith, director and "Silent Bob", is from NJ, as well as "Jay", "Randall", and "Dante". In fact, I think most if not all of Smith's films take place in Jersey, even, ironically enough, JERSEY GIRL.
The great GARDEN STATE (writer/director/star Zach Braff is from NJ)
HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE ("Kumar" aka Kal Penn is also from NJ)
THE TOXIC AVENGER (The first superhero from New Jersey)
And although it doesn't take place in NJ, in MISS CONGENIALITY, Sandra Bullock's character, who is supposed to be "Miss New Jersey", is asked why it's called the Garden State, to which she replies "Because 'Oil and Petrochemical Refinery State' wouldn't fit on a license plate?" Sad but true.
So, you see, New Jersey is good for something after all. So lighten up on my home state, at least we're not Delaware.
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Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.
Born to write (literally – much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.|
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