New Jersey has long been overlooked as a “small state” and just a suburb of New York. New Jersey has a rich entertainment history with musicians and actors that have helped give credibility to our state.

I have had the amazing honor of hosting the New Jersey Hall of Fame induction awards and being a part of the red-carpet interviews for several of the New Jersey Hall of Fame events.

I was surprised to find the number of entertainers who are from New Jersey. I had the pleasure of interviewing many of them — and you can read a bit about each of those interviews below. In most cases, each one of them had that Jersey sense of community.

But first, here are some of the famous actors from New Jersey.

LOOK: Famous actors from New Jersey

Stacker compiled a list of famous actors born in New Jersey from IMDb.

We have had some powerful actors make a big impact on the way the world enjoys its films, stage and television. That is something that makes us proud to be New Jersey.

G'Day USA 2020 | Standing Together Dinner
Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for G'Day USA

Big Joe talks to ... John Travolta

I got the opportunity to talk with John at a big event that he was hosting. We briefly talked about New Jersey, he stated that he regrets not spending more time here. John expressed his passion for music, especially Jersey music. I was amazed how genuine he is. As we were talking, he looked me straight in the eyes instead of the standard head down and uninterested look that most celebrities do when they are giving an interview. His demeanor couldn’t be nicer. It was a great experience talking with him and he’s a celebrity that makes us proud he’s from New Jersey.

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Big Joe talks to ... Jack Nicholson

While my interaction with Jack was brief, it was pure Jack Nicholson. Jack was being honored at the New Jersey Hall of Fame and there were many photographers and press who were anxiously awaiting his arrival. Since I was interviewing the arriving celebrities for the NJ Hall of Fame, I was first on the red carpet and had a microphone and loudspeaker so the crowd could hear me. Jack got out of his SUV, sunglasses and all and started walking quickly, he saw me and stopped. I asked quickly, “how does it feel to be back in Jersey and being inducted.” He looked at me and said, “it’s great to be back, baby, and my, you’re a big man!” He turned on his heels and rushed into the auditorium. I was laughing. It was typical Jack Nicholson and gave an answer you’d expect.

Townsquare Media
Townsquare Media

Big Joe talks to ... Joe Pesci

I interviewed Joe Pesci about four years ago. It was an amazing opportunity because Joe doesn’t like to do interviews. I was at The Pro-Am Jam out at Eagle Oaks Country Club and my friend Denis Gallagher was running the whole charity event. Joe Pesci was there to lend support, but he was doing it very quietly and Denis said to Joe, go over and talk to my friend Big Joe Henry. Joe says no I don’t want to talk with the “big guy.” Denis explains who I’m and that I have a radio show, Joe says, “I know who he is and I’m not talking to him.”

Denis begs a little more and Pesci says, “Ok, OK, I’ll talk to him, but he can’t say a word about my new movie.” He was talking about The Irishman which was scheduled for release in a couple of weeks. Denis comes over and says, “don’t say a word about the new movie, I’m serious, not a word.” Of course, I agree, and Joe comes over. My mind is whirling for questions as to not act like a knucklehead and totally upset Joe who I know would shut down the interview in a New York minute.

While I was totally unprepared for my impromptu opportunity with Joe, I had no idea he’d be there, I remembered how he loves the races at Monmouth Park, how he has a house in Lavallette, NJ, and how he’s into music, so I’m thinking I’m going to be OK. We open with some banter about Monmouth Park, and he lights up talking about a new horse that he has with great potential. Before our camera rolled, he said he was a little sore from golf and getting old was a b***h. We finished our small talk and the camera rolled and I kept it generic but as we’re going to wrap it up, he looks me square in the face and says, “why didn’t you ask me about my new movie?” That was a good laugh. He was a great guy to talk with and would have loved to have more time.

'Dumbo' European Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals
Getty Images

Big Joe talks to ... Danny DeVito

The first time I met Danny was in January of 1998. I was scheduled to host a charity concert at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank honoring slain Long Branch police officer Sgt. Pat King who was assassinated while on duty in Long Branch in 1997. On the schedule for the concert was Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, most of the E Street Band, Southside Johnny, Gary US Bonds and it was led by musical director Bobby Bandiera. My friend from the Long Branch Police Department Lt. Pat Joyce asked me to host the event. I was honored and excited to be a part of this special evening.

I went to rehearsal the night before and it was such a great experience, everyone was on their A game. So, the night of the event comes, I head into the Basie backstage and Pat comes over to me and says, I hate to tell you this, but you won’t be hosting the show tonight. I was upset, who could you get that would do this? I know all the musicians, I knew Sgt. Pat King, and I knew Pat Joyce. Was it some other radio guy? Well, he said, Danny DeVito heard about it and flew in to host tonight. Now he’s somebody that I could yield to, he’s a big star and to take the time to lend his support was pretty cool.

At that moment, Danny comes over and introduces himself and starts to beg me not to hit him because he took my “job,” we laughed and talked music for a bit, I wished him good luck and saw the show from back by the soundboard. It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen.

The next time we would meet was when he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2010. Ironically, he was inducted by Bruce Springsteen. It was Danny who inducted Bruce when he was added to The New Jersey Hall of Fame. He stopped and gave me an interview and we laughed about the first time we met. He was cordial and funny and humbled by the induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. As Bruce Springsteen said of Danny: “No one inducted to this point physically and temperamentally personifies our state more than Danny DeVito. He is the human essence of the state of New Jersey in a small powerful package.” You have got to love Danny DeVito, thanks for bringing a little Jersey with you in everything you do!

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Big Joe talks to ... James Gandolfini

Few actors have embraced a role and character with a powerful impact on its viewers with long-term success. James Gandolfini is that actor. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a VIP reception for a sponsor who invited me to go along. Several of "The Sopranos" cast members were there and it was great to see them all in the social setting. I will say that they all seemed to be burned out with the requests for the number of selfies and autographs and being pulled in so many directions.

About halfway through the evening, my sponsor friend introduced me to James Gandolfini. I was shocked, I mean shocked to hear James say he listened to my show and had a big smile on his face. I don’t get too “star-struck” but I was at a loss for words, believe it or not. We talked about music; he loved Bruce and Jon Bon Jovi plus Southside Johnny. We talked about great music shows in New Jersey. The too-quick conversation was interrupted several times and he was led away to meet and greet other VIPs. It was a brief but enjoyable meeting. His talent will be missed. James Gandolfini was a true Jersey Guy!

Ray Liotta
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Big Joe talks to ... Ray Liotta

My encounter with Ray was pretty cool. He was being inducted and I was hosting the New Jersey Hall of Fame Awards. I had just finished a piece on stage with a few jokes and Ray was waiting in the wings to be introduced. With Ray was a high school friend who would be inducting him into the Hall of Fame. Ray looked at me as I came off stage and complimented me on my jokes, and asked if I did this professionally. His friend, who he graduated with from Union High School, said “are you kidding, that’s Big Joe Henry, a Jersey radio guy, I listen every weekend.” Ray was asking me music questions; this was all when a clip of his induction was going on, and I’m concerned that his buddy is going to miss his cue. It worked out fine, but I was impressed with the tight and genuine bond that Ray had with his high school friend and how nice he was to me. Ray didn’t like the trimmings of being a big movie star. He enjoyed the simplicity of his Jersey roots.

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