Playing a tough character might have needed more experience on part of the actor than just acting chops.
Often called the best American show of all time, ‘The Sopranos’ was a gritty crime drama that ran from 1999 to 2007 for a total of six smashing seasons on HBO. About an Italian-American mafia boss Tony Soprano, who was finding a hard time balancing his family life with, you know, his full-time job as a gangster, the show gave us many memorable characters and a gripping storyline that made audiences its fans for life. What’s more, there is a possibility that there were real gangsters in ‘The Sopranos’ playing reel-life gangsters. Read on!
- The real-life Paulie
- How the actor came into the acting industry
One of its iconic characters was Paulie Gualtieri, who was funny, weird, and tough and worked for the Soprano family. Paulie, with his memorable hairdo and unyielding toughness, seems to be almost a natural gangster on the show. Could the actor who plays Paulie in ‘The Sopranos’ have been an actual gangster during his pre-acting days?
The real-life Paulie
Turns out, he was. Actor Tony Sirico, who plays the character of Paulie in ‘The Sopranos’, has had several brushes against the law early in his life. He grew up in Brooklyn in a neighbourhood that was rife with criminal activity. Suffice it to say that it was a place where you were supposed to have a tattoo or a bullet hole to prove yourself.
The actor managed to get a total of 28 arrests during his criminal life phase in the 60s and 70s, although he was convicted in only two instances. But he did serve multiple stints in jail.
How the actor came into the acting industry
So then, what changed for Tony Sirico? An acting troupe comprising of ex-convicts. When the actor was serving jail-time in Sing Sing, an acting troupe came to visit the inmates and perform for them. When he saw them act, the actor realised he could do what they were doing.
Sirico’s first role was as an extra in the movie ‘Crazy Joe’. From then on, there was no turning back. The actor has appeared in numerous movies in the 30-plus years since that time, even starring in a Martin Scorsese called ‘The Goodfellas’. What a way to turn a new leaf!