Tony Sirico, a once-struggling actor who gained undying fame for the role of Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” has died, his manager told the press on Friday. He was 79 years old.
Born in Brooklyn, Sirico has appeared in several gangster films, including Goodfellas. But it’s his role as the capo of Tony Soprano’s New Jersey Mafia that he will be long remembered for.
He once told an interviewer that he originally tried out for the role of Uncle Junior in David Chase’s drama.
In an interview with Deadline in 2019he said he was accepting the recurring role as long as the character was never written to be a “rat”.
“I come from the streets. I’ve been in the army, I’ve been everywhere,” he said. “I wouldn’t play rat if you put a gun to my head and if you put a gun to my head you better empty it.”
Sirico was remembered by Michael Imperioli, the actor who played Tony Soprano’s ill-fated nephew, Christopher Moltisanti, as a “dear friend, colleague and partner in crime”.
“Tony was like no one else: he was as tough and as loyal and as big as anyone I’ve ever known. I was by his side through so much: through the good and the bad. moments. But mostly good. And we had a laugh,” Imperioli said on Instagram.
“We found a rhythm as Christopher and Paulie and I’m proud to say I did a lot of my best and funniest work with my dear friend Tony.”
Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano, remembered Sirico as kind and “fiercely loyal.”
“He was always Uncle Tony to me, and Tony always showed up for me and my family. I will deeply miss his twinks on the cheek and his infectious laugh. He was a phenomenal actor and an even better man.” , said Gandolfini. on Instagram.
“Tony was one of a kind. He touched a lot of people with his gift and my heart goes out to his family, friends and all his fans. We love you Tony, thank you for all the joy you brought to many. You will miss.”
Sergio Bichao is the digital editor of New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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