New book reveals ‘Sopranos’ masturbation scene was cut from show

The scene would result in "Gandolfini’s longest and strongest tantrum"

A new book on the legacy of HBO has revealed that a masturbation scene involving James Gandolfini in The Sopranos was cut from the show.

The scene in question was included in an excerpt of the book, called Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, which was published by Vulture. It made reference to a particular outburst that Gandolfini had after reading that his character, Tony Soprano, would masturbate in a gas station toilet.

The scene was part of a storyline in which Soprano was having an affair with realtor Julianna Skiff (Julianna Margulies) in season six of the show. According to the book, this scene would result in “Gandolfini’s longest and strongest tantrum” on the show, as an extension of his tumultuous relationship with the creative team.


“But even that time, despite his earlier protests, Gandolfini relented and played the scene as written,” wrote author James Andrew Miller. “As it turned out, the gas-station sequence was shot but then edited out of the finished episode.

Edie Falco Sopranos
The Sopranos: James Gandolfini and Edie Falco. CREDIT: Allstar Picture Library Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

“To his credit, Gandolfini never complained to Chase that the difficult scene ended up on the cutting-room floor.”

Gandolfini’s tense relationship with The Sopranos‘ creative team was much-publicised. In a recent interview, creator David Chase admitted that the pair were “barely talking” by the time that the show ended.

Chase drew on a particular example of Gandolfini’s behaviour that happened at the Emmys, the last event that saw all of the show’s cast and crew together.


“We’re sitting at a table, [James Gandolfini] went by with his food and my wife said ‘Hey! Jim, come sit over here,’” Chase recalled. “He just ignored her and sat someplace else.”

He continued: “For my wife, I was infuriated. I suddenly said to myself, ‘I really hate that motherfucker, I hate that guy.’ That’s what it had come to.”

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