‘Sopranos’ Star Steve Schirripa: ‘Every Sweaty Italian Guy’ Thought He Could Be on the Show

In the beginning, The Sopranos was just like any other show. It started with a pilot, and no one knew if HBO would order the first season. Some had an idea, of course. Michael Rispoli (Jackie Aprile), who competed with James Gandolfini for the Tony Soprano role, knew the show would be a winner.

The other actors who got onto the pilot could only hope Rispoli was right. Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti, counted among them. Imperioli had always wanted to do a Woody Allen movie, but to shoot the Sopranos pilot he had to pass on Allen’s Celebrity.

But once the show got going it became a sensation. When the actors started making cast appearances in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, they found massive lines of fans awaiting them. And Steve Schirripa (Bobby Baccala) began noticing a trend.

More than a few enthusiastic Sopranos fans thought they should be on the show. And as Schirripa and Imperioli discussed on the May 18 edition of the Talking Sopranos podcast, many were Italian-American.

‘Sopranos’ stars constantly had people asking to get on the show

The cast of 'The Sopranos' has a laugh
‘The Sopranos’ cast gathers for a photo shoot. | Tom Briglia/FilmMagic

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When Imperioli and Schirripa sat down for episode 7 of Talking Sopranos, the pair took a moment to reminisce about doing an event in Nevada back in the HBO show’s heyday. As Schirripa recalled it, an overbearing fan really got under Imperioli’s skin during a card game.

“I remember you got mad at a guy, you were playing blackjack” Schirripa began. In brief, the man was pestering Imperioli at the card table. “The guy was going, ‘Hey Chrissy, hey Chrissy! C’mon, put me on the show. Put me on the show!'” Eventually, Imperioli snapped.

“You f*cking got pissed,” Schirripa reminded Imperioli. “And you went, ‘I’ve been working [in the business] 20 years! You think this is a f*ckin’ joke?’ You just teed off on the guy [who] was in your face and being an a**hole.”

While Imperioli didn’t seem to recall the incident in question, Schirripa connected that to his own experience — and that of so many other Sopranos actors.

Steve Schirripa said ‘every fat, sweaty Italian guy’ considered himself ‘Sopranos’ material

Vincent Pastore and Steve Schirripa
Vincent Pastore and Steve Schirripa at Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas | Denise Truscello/WireImage

After running into a number of over-the-top fans in his Sopranos days, Schirripa said he noticed something many had in common. “Every f*ckin’ guy with a vowel at the end of his name thought he should be on the show,” Schirripa said (as Imperioli broke out laughing).

But Schirripa wasn’t finished. Something about The Sopranos actors made people think they could do it, too. “Every fat, sweaty Italian guy thought that they could be an actor,” he added. “For real.” After Imperioli pondered that thought for a second, he came to a reasonable conclusion.

“Well, some of them did,” he quipped. After enjoying Imperioli’s line, Schirripa had a quick comeback of his own. “Yes they did,” he replied. “Myself included.”

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