Tony Sirico started acting at the age of 35, but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most loved and respected faces on television thanks to his role as Paulie Gualtieri. Last Friday, Sirico passed away after a heart attack, and his teammates remember that he was authentic. He didn’t act like it was: he was a person straight out of the mafia to act in ‘The Sopranos’, and that made the difference.
You don’t even call him godfather
Before turning to acting, Sirico was arrested 27 times, was shot by a rival gang for getting involved with one of their girlfriends, was in Sing Sing jail… And the person who best knew his eccentricities and his life Before becoming a star, it is none other than David Chase, who offers us his condolences for our loss: “Tony’s loss is your loss as much as mine. We all loved him. He was one of a kind.”.
There was something subconscious about Tony, the way he approached things. I can’t explain what he was. I’m not sure he understood it himself. I’m not sure he knew he had it. You know? He used to direct the other actors, on set. He said “No, no, listen to me: Say it like that!”. They didn’t complain. Well, some did, but not too many.
Sirico was the only person who asked Chase to change a line of dialogue during the series: a character referred to his as “bully” and the actor didn’t like it, so Chase cut him. His anecdotes number in the hundreds, but there may be one that better illustrates what it was like.
David Chase and the rest of the team of ‘The Sopranos’ gave the actors something for Christmas: Some handcuffs, a miniature Colt, things like that. But no one ever said thank you, they got tired of working hard and one year they gave away 4 CDs with the music of the series.
Sirico tells me, “You know what you should have done? Remember when you gave us the handcuffs? That was good. That’s what you should have done!” I got angry. I told him, “You never said shit about that! And you never gave us shit!” He looked shocked, like he was going to cry. Two days later, we had a shipment. It was from a suburban store. Sort of expensive Italian gift shops. It was huge. Just a huge box. He had cologne, leather, everything looked Roman or Italian. And it was his! I imagine Tony in the afterlife. It never happens to me when someone dies, but I can imagine it. I see you.