During Tina Fey's promotional tour for her best-selling memoir, Bossypants, last month, New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick asked the comedian about the book's "unique" cover: "Tina, whose forearms are those? Are those Alec Baldwin's forearms?" Fey replied, "No, those are Alec Baldwin's feet. They Photoshopped them." That response wasn't good enough for Details, so we tracked down the man behind the woman. Literally. Meet Joe Rosario, the 52-year-old actor who you may (or may not) recognize from his roles on The Sopranos, Law and Order: SVU, and Ed. Below, Rosario talks about his cover shoot with Tina, forearm-grooming maintenance, and why he refuses to laugh at anything David Letterman finds funny.
DETAILS: Did you know you were going to appear on the cover of Bossypants during the shoot?
Joe Rosario: I was just told it was a shoot for Tina Fey's book--I had no idea it was for the cover. I thought it was basically something for a picture inside the book. When I got there, the room was filled with a lot of props and outfits. She had just finished getting shot in something like an Annie Oakley outfit. So the way the process is done is, she's posed with her arms to her sides. I get behind her and stick my arms through her armholes, and I start playing around, touching her face and doing all these other crazy things, stuff that [the photographer Ruven Afandor's] telling me. She's tiny, and I'm, like, six-two. They had to put her on an applebox to make her even with me.
DETAILS: How did you land the gig?
Joe Rosario: The photographer that took the book-cover picture had used me for an editorial that he did for the New York Times. The picture was a bunch of guys that looked kind of Tommy Hilfigerish. Little blond guys. And my arms were graced on top of theirs. He loved the way it came out, so he mentioned it to Tina Fey.
DETAILS: Do you take particular care of your arms and hands?
Joe Rosario: I'm embarrassed to say it, but I actually do. I get regular manicures. I stay out of the sun. I like to use basic moisturizers — Nivea, Neutrogena. The photographer told me, you just have the right amount and color of hair. It's not so dark that it overpowers the arm, so you can actually see the arm. It's not overly long, but it's not overly short either. I guess I was born with good hair genes.
DETAILS: The book cover has gotten a ton of attention. Have you been following the reaction to it?
Joe Rosario: All my friends, every time they see something, they e-mail me--guess what, your arms have been on Conan! The funny thing is, I was watching when Tina was on Letterman. Letterman comes out with the book before she even comes out. He starts talking about the book and starts talking about the arms and so forth. The thing is, I was on the Letterman show as a recurring character called Bob Zick. I would be on stage with Dave, and he would tell me these outrageous stories, and what he thought was funny, I thought wasn't funny. And what he thought wasn't funny, I would laugh my ass off.
DETAILS: What's your interpretation of the image?
Joe Rosario: The top half of her shows that she's this pretty, sensitive, artistic woman. But in order to get where she had go, to run a show, she needs to be — for lack of a better word, without being a bitch — bossy. I think that's what the bottom half of the picture, my half, signifies for her.
DETAILS: So what's next for you?
Joe Rosario: I'm just waiting for someone to pick up my pretty face on a sitcom and I'll be happy… unfortunately, they're not going to know that from the book cover.
—By Christopher Ross