‘The Sopranos’ Star Tony Sirico Was ‘Horrified’ Over One Word in an Early Script: Here’s Why

by Sean Griffin

Tony Sirico portrayed Paulie Gualtieri on critically acclaimed show The Sopranos. Sadly, the actor died July 8, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 79. While his cause of death was not released, Sirico suffered from dementia.

Co-stars and friends have taken to social media to mourn his death. People are remembering the legend in all sorts of ways. Recently, Steve Schirripa and Michael Imperioli brought up a memory about Tony Sirico on their joint podcast.

Steve Schirripa portrayed mobster Bobby Baccalieri in The Sopranos. Costar Michael Imperioli starred as mafia member Christopher Moltisanti in the show. The two became close friends during the show. They decided to co-host a podcast together called Talking Sopranos. It began airing on April 6, 2020, and quickly achieved immense success.

By September of 2020, less than six months after starting the podcast, it received downloaded five million times. The former stars of the show provide an insider perspective as they watch the series.

The success of the podcast prompted more projects. Imperioli and Schirripa signed a book deal with a HarperCollins company to write an oral history of The Sopranos. The book, called Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of The Sopranos, hit shelves on November 2, 2021.

Tony Sirico Was Furious Over This Line

On their podcast, hosts Schirripa and Imperioli once brought up a story about Tony Sirico. They said that Sirico had taken issue with a reference to his character Paulie in an episode’s script. The episode is Season 1, Episode 11 called “Nobody Knows Anything.”

“One of the only times an actor influenced a change in the script, and it wasn’t even their line,” Imperioli said. “Makazian [John Heard] didn’t like Paulie. In the original script, he said he didn’t like Paulie. ‘Paulie was a bully.’”

“Tony Sirico read that and was horrified and was very angry that Paulie was labeled a bully. [He] went to [episode writer] Frank [Renzulli], maybe David [Chase], and said, ‘Paulie is not a bully! I don’t like this!’ So they took it into consideration, thought about it, and said, ‘How about psycho?’ And Tony Sirico said, ‘Fine.’”

Apparently, Tony Sirico believed his character to be many things—including a psycho. However, not a bully.

Additionally, Imperioli went on to say it was one of the only times he could recall an actor affecting a script change on the show.

However, many don’t know this other fact about Tony Sirico. He reportedly agreed to play the role of Paulie under one condition. His character must avoid becoming a ‘rat.’ The actor would never agree to play a government informant. Tony Sirico served over a year in prison after numerous arrests. Evidently, he took the issue of informing to police, or ‘ratting,’ seriously.