The long-awaited Bad Boys for Life gave fans of the franchise plenty of action and comedy as well as more of the top-notch chemistry between leads Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Despite the film’s high level of fun, viewers received a serious gut punch when Joe Pantoliano’s Captain Howard was suddenly killed off in the middle of the movie. It was a shocking development to say the least and one that the film’s directors didn’t take lightly.
Bad Boys for Life directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah recently opened up about the decision to kill off the Joe Pantoliano’s beloved character. While the development was sad for the pair, Fallah revealed that there was actually a somewhat humorous component to the day they shot Howard’s funeral:
We wanted to make that the most powerful scene in the movie so we put everything in it. We were shooting, also, the funeral scene and Joey Pants came by. We were surprised like, 'What you doing here?' 'It's my funeral! Can you put me in the fourth movie, as a ghost or something maybe?'
It must’ve been strange for the cast and crew to bury Pantoliano’s character while still seeing him on set. Despite these shenanigans, Adil El Arbi went on to stress to ComicBook.com that they were just as torn up about the death as fans were but still sought to give him the best possible send-off:
It was, to begin with for us, the same reaction. We read that script and thought, 'No! This cannot happen! This cannot happen!' We were heartbroken already in the script. Then, we wanted to do it as heartbreaking as possible because it broke our hearts when we read the script. Joey Pants is one of the greatest actors ever, he's such a sweet guy and he's such a good guy, man. He's in such iconic movies. We're always asking him questions like, 'How was Memento? How's Chris Nolan? How was The Matrix?'
Having appeared in all three films as Captain Conrad Howard, Joe Pantoliano was a mainstay within the franchise. Not only did his character serve as a source of comic relief, but he also acted as a mentor and father figure to Smith and Lawrence’s Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. This was especially the case in Bad Boys for Life, which made it all the more tragic when he was killed by Lowrey’s newly discovered son.
Despite his character exiting the franchise, Pantoliano enjoyed his time working on the movie, even going as far as to say it was better than working on the first two. We probably won’t be seeing him in the inevitable fourth film, and his absence will surely be felt. Thankfully though, fans can also revisit his performances in the trilogy.
Bad Boys for Life is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD and Digital HD.