James Gandolfini Went on Bender on ‘Sopranos’ Set, Ended Up Tied to a Tree

by John Jamison

Michael Gandolfini will play a younger version of Tony Soprano in the upcoming film “The Many Saints of Newark.” It’s a big deal for Michael and “Sopranos” fans alike. His father, James Gandolfini, passed away in 2013. The legendary Tony Soprano actor was known for really getting into his character. One time, he and co-star Michael Imperioli downed an entire bottle of bourbon on set. Not only that, they did it before a scene that required them to dump a body off of a cliff.

From 1999 to 2007, “The Sopranos” blew audiences away. Over the course of six seasons, the show depicted fictional mob boss Tony Soprano and the entire mafia landscape of New Jersey/New York. It earned more than 20 primetime Emmy Awards.

The groundbreaking series could never have been what it was without the help of James Gandolfini. The man played Tony Soprano to a tee. But all of the success led Gandolfini down a troubled path. According to numerous reports and the divorce papers his wife filed in 2002, the actor struggled with substance abuse. It led to all sorts of issues in terms of his work. On one occasion, he drank so much with one of his co-stars during filming that the production had to take some drastic measures.

“On the break, while they set up the lights, Michael and Jim [Gandolfini] drank a bottle of Wild Turkey. They were so drunk that they had to chain their legs to a tree. Because they were afraid they were going to fall off the cliff,” Bobby Baccalieri actor Steve Schirripa told Insider (he also plays Anthony Abetemarco on “Blue Bloods”).

Well, neither of them fell off of the cliff, and they got the shot they needed. So it happened to work for the show this time.

Connection Between James Gandolfini-led ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Blue Bloods’

Steve Schirripa isn’t the only connection between “The Sopranos” and “Blue Bloods.” Far from it, in fact. Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green, the creators of “Blue Bloods,” wrote more than 20 episodes of “The Sopranos.” And that’s a serious accomplishment for any writer. The Writer’s Guild of America considers the James Gandolfini-led series to be the best-written show of all time.

It’s no wonder then that Jamie Reagan actor Will Estes could hardly contain himself when he read the script for “Blue Bloods.”

“I was more excited when I read this than anything I’ve read in a really long time. And that was before I knew who was attached to it,” he told Liveabout.com.

We can only imagine his reaction when he realized the showrunners were contributing producers of “The Sopranos.” Of course, James Gandolfini himself wasn’t attached. But hey, you can’t go wrong with having Tom Selleck play your dad.