The late Tony Sirico demanded a specific change of dialogue on The Sopranos, creator David Chase has revealed.
In a recent interview with Vulture, Chase explained how the actor, who passed away last week at the age of 79, was the only member of cast who successfully convinced him to make an alteration to the script.
“I will say, Tony was part of one of the greatest casts of all time,” said Chase. “It was certainly the greatest cast I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with some incredible casts. But he was the only one who ever asked me to have a line changed. And I did it.”
However, instead of changing his own dialogue, Sirico was more concerned about the way his iconic character, Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, was described by other characters.
“Another character was talking about Paulie, and they said he was a bully. Tony didn’t like that,” Chase explained. “He asked me to take the word ‘bully’ out of there. And I did.”
He continued: “The important thing is, he didn’t like that word. He didn’t like it at all. I wonder if [his past had] something to do with why he was so sensitive about it. Maybe he had been a bully as a young man.
“I’ve seen a picture of him as a young man standing out in the street next to a parking meter with a tank top on. Flexing his muscles, you know. He looked the part.”
This wasn’t the only time Sirico enforced his his influence on the show’s script. When he was first offered the part of Paulie Walnuts, he famously accepted the role on the condition that his character never became a rat.
Sirico’s death was confirmed by his family and manager of 25 years, Bob McGowan, on July 8.
McGowan told The Hollywood Reporter that Sirico died in an assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale, after living with dementia for the last two years.
A statement posted on Facebook by Sirico’s brother Robert read: “It is with great sadness, but with incredible pride, love and a whole lot of fond memories, that the family of Gennaro Anthony ‘Tony’ Sirico wishes to inform you of his death on the morning of July 8, 2022. The family is deeply grateful for the many expressions of love, prayer and condolences and requests that the public respect its privacy in this time of bereavement.”
The actor is survived by daughter Joanne Sirico Bello, son Richard Sirico and his brother, Robert.