‘The Sopranos’: Carl Capotorto’s Memorable Run-In With Tony Sirico Before Playing Little Paulie

When an actor joined the cast of The Sopranos, it was only a matter of time before you had a run-in with Tony Sirico, who played Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri. For Carl Capotorto, the actor who portrayed “Little Paulie” Germani, the two were on something of a collision course.

That’s because Little Paulie was some sort of relation of Paulie’s (cousin? nephew? family friend?). So producers naturally had Little Paulie dress with a little bit of that signature Paulie Walnuts style. That caught Sirico’s attention almost immediately.

Before Capotorto began shooting scenes in character, he showed up at the production’s Queens studio to try out different Little Paulie looks. And Capotorto promptly ran into Sirico while in costume, prompting a hilarious reaction.

‘Sopranos’ star Tony Sirico was wary of Carl Capotorto’s Little Paulie costume

Tony Sirico gestures with his fist on-stage as Bruce Springsteen stands to his right
Tony Sirico at the Little Steven International Garage Festival at Randall’s Island. August 14, 2004 | Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

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Capotorto looked back at his time on the show on the April 12 edition of the Talking Sopranos podcast. He could remember his first encounter with Sirico quite clearly. “Apparently, David Chase drew a little sketch of what he wanted from Little Paulie,” Capotorto said. “He wanted him dressed like Paulie.”

That look included a track suit, similar sneakers, and even a silver streak at Capotorto’s hairline. “I’m walking through the studio with my hair done like that, with the streak in it, with the running suit, with the white sneakers and a pinky ring,” Capotorto recalled. “And here comes Tony Sirico.”

If you know anything about Sirico, you know he wouldn’t let Capotorto pass without comment. “He stopped in the hallway,” Caportorto said. “And he said, ‘Hey! That’s my look. My look.’ I said, ‘I know. That’s because I’m Little Paulie. You’re Paulie. And then I’m Little Paulie.'”

Sirico seemed satisfied with that explanation. “[Sirico] said, ‘Oh, you’re like a mini-me,'” Capotorto recalled with a laugh. “I said, ‘Yeah.'” With that out of the way, the actor could get back to work preparing to play Little Paulie.

Capotorto wondered how Little Paulie avoided the Ginny Sack uproar

Carl Capotorto poses by an HBO sign at a 'Sopranos' premiere event
Carl Capotorto during The Sopranos season finale New York screening presented by HBO | Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

If you think back to Little Paulie’s biggest moments, you can’t ignore the joke he relayed to Paulie Walnuts in prison. Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano) had initially made the crack, which revolved around a very heavy (approximately 95-lb.) mole somewhere on the person of Ginny Sacrimoni.

That remark set off quite a chain of events in the world of The Sopranos. In fact, after Paulie Walnuts told Ginny’s husband (New York capo Johnny Sack) about it, it prompted a standoff with the Soprano family. All that began with Little Paulie’s desire to share a laugh with his “uncle.”

“Here’s my question: Why wasn’t [Little Paulie] taken to task for that?” Capotorto wondered. “I kept waiting. When I saw how that snowballed, I was like, ‘Oh. Little Paulie’s gonna have to… There’s a big scene coming up, where Little Paulie has to answer.’ Never! Never. I thought I’d have to answer for that, but no.”