How ‘Sopranos’ Star Steve Schirripa Kept Earning When Acting Jobs Dried Up

by Jeremy Spirogis
Schirripa holding a toilet seat

While it turned clear early on that HBO had a success on its fingers with The Sopranos, that didn’t imply actors on the present may cease worrying about work. Take John Ventimiglia (Artie Bucco), who recalled battling so few appearances in season 1.

On two separate events, Ventimiglia needed to flip The Sopranos down after they referred to as him to play Artie in an episode. It got here all the way down to the cash: He couldn’t dangle round on name for HBO whereas passing on different appearing jobs.

Steve Schirripa, who got here aboard as Bobby Baccala in season 2, knew precisely how Ventimiglia felt. While making his early appearances as Bobby, Schirripa recalled breaking even at finest. In reality, he may need misplaced cash after touring from Las Vegas to log his six season 2 appearances.

To make ends meet, Schirripa did what numerous actors have accomplished over time: He took paid appearances the place he may get them. That included all the pieces from game-show appearances to working as a choose on a contest for pets alongside Virginia Madsen.

Steve Schirripa spoke in regards to the dry spells he had earlier than and after ‘The Sopranos’

Schirripa holding a toilet seat
Actor Steve Schirripa of “The Sopranos” throws a bathroom seat on the 10th annual “Redneck Games” in 2005. | JEFF HAYNES/AFP through Getty Images

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On the Talking Sopranos podcast, Schirripa spoke in regards to the lengthy and winding highway many actors on the present took to success. He pointed to Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior), who performed Johnny Ola in The Godfather: Part II. At one level, Chianese labored as a bricklayer and thought of quitting appearing.

Tony Sirico, who saved Sopranos followers laughing as Paulie Walnuts, additionally had his share of dry spells. (Schirripa famous how Sirico slept in his mom’s lounge for an extended stretch as a grown man.) For his half, Schirripa didn’t get “regular” standing on The Sopranos till season 3.

So he needed to hold hustling. “I’d do plenty of sport exhibits [in his early Sopranos days],” Schirripa recalled. “I did a bunch of them, and I got to meet all these people.” Schirripa’s credit embrace The Test, Lifegame, Hollywood Squares, and Iron Chef.

He informed the story of assembly Jackée Harry of 227 fame. “She worked 20 years straight, and then she said, ‘It was like they turned the faucet off.’” Though he was new to the appearing career, Schirripa noticed that clearly. At one level, he discovered himself judging canine with Madsen earlier than she did Sideways (2004).

Schirripa labored as a choose on ‘The American Idol for dogs’ amongst different gigs

Schirripa with 'Sopranos' co-starsSchirripa with 'Sopranos' co-stars
Drea de Matteo, Steve Schirripa, Tony Sirico and James Gandolfini | KMazur/WireImage

Schirripa’s finest down-on-her-luck actor story may need been the one involving Madsen within the early 2000s. “Believe it or not, I used to be a choose on, like, an American Idol for pets. It was hosted by Mario Lopez,” Schirripa recalled with amusing on Talking Sopranos. “And you know who was a judge with me? Virginia Madsen.”

Madsen, who’d labored on Candyman and The Prophecy within the ’90s, was not touchdown many function movies on the time. “Virginia Madsen,” Schirripa repeated. “An ideal actress, and she or he was struggling. Then, not lengthy after, Sideways comes out. Puts her proper again on prime and she or he’s in every single place.”

Schirripa by no means forgot that lesson. “You gotta go do what you gotta do,” he mentioned. “I was just starting, so for me the money was good. But you gotta pay the bills, and it just dries up at times. It can happen any day. They reshuffle the cards every morning.”

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