Hollywood bids farewell to three greats united by mafia films and friendship | James Caan

Tributes to Tony Sirico, the actor who played Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri in the Tv set drama The Sopranos, have poured in after the announcement of his dying at the age of 79.

He is the 3rd modern decline among actors who grew to become well-known for their portrayal of villains in defining fictional depictions of mob existence, subsequent the deaths of James Caan, who starred in The Godfather, and Ray Liotta, who appeared in Goodfellas and the Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark.

In 1 on-line tribute, a producer of The Simpsons, Al Jean, joked on Saturday that the trio would now be getting a “sitdown in heaven”.

The a few actors were revered in the business, notably for their portrayals of deeply unsavoury figures on the huge monitor they generally appeared together in community.

The trio have been also united by a person similarity in their backgrounds: each had expressed minor interest in acting in their youths and pursued various early occupations right before transforming tack. However, Sirico – unlike Caan and Liotta, who equally went to college – experienced a track record completely in trying to keep with violent hoodlum that he performed in The Sopranos.

Sirico appeared in all six seasons of the sequence which ran from 1999 until finally 2007, taking part in the vicious, paranoid but faithful henchman to James Gandolfini’s mob boss Tony Soprano.

Born in Brooklyn in 1942, Sirico remaining substantial faculty with out graduating and commenced work in design, where he “started jogging with the wrong style of guys”, as he later set it. In 1970, he was arrested and discovered to be carrying a revolver.

James Caan, correct, with Al Pacino, in The Godfather. Photograph: Paramount Photographs/Allstar

A year afterwards, he was indicted for extortion, coercion, and prison possession of a weapon, and was sentenced to 4 a long time in jail, of which he served 20 months in the notorious Sing Sing prison. It was there, he reported, that he noticed a travelling troupe of ex-downsides named the Theater for the Neglected and made the decision that would be his new calling.

He appeared in a series of slight roles on Tv and films in advance of landing roles in Cop Land and Dead Presidents. However, it was his character in The Sopranos that brought him world wide fame, taking part in Paul Gualtieri – nicknamed, Paulie ‘Walnuts’, so referred to as because he as soon as hijacked a truck complete of nuts in the mistaken perception it contained tv sets. Paulie was phobic about germs, hated cats, and liked his mom even nevertheless she was really his aunt.

In addition to his Sopranos role Sirico (who died at an assisted-residing facility in Florida, owning experienced dementia for quite a few yrs) appeared in a host of gangster films together with Mob Queen, Fingers, The Final Fight – and Goodfellas. This past film, directed by Martin Scorsese, featured Liotta in his biggest function, as gangster Henry Hill, participating in opposite Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci.

Liotta later on turned down the chance to look in The Sopranos, as mobster Ralphie Cifaretto, on the grounds that “I did not want to do another mafia point.” On the other hand, he got a possibility to sign up for the franchise in 2021 when he starred in The Many Saints Of Newark.

Liotta in a white suit, black shirt  and white tie, talks to someone off camera, flanked by two hemchmen in black suits
Ray Liotta , centre, in his craeer-defining function as Henry Hill in Goodfellas. Photograph: Warner Bros./Barry Wetcher/Allstar

Liotta, the adopted son of a city clerk and a auto pieces keep proprietor, died in his snooze though on place in the Dominican Republic when he was producing the motion picture Unsafe Waters.

The origin of all modern mobster sagas is generally mentioned to be The Godfather, the 1972 blockbuster directed by Francis Ford Coppola – a film that acquired Caan an Oscar nomination for his efficiency as Sonny Corleone, the sizzling-headed son of Marlon Brando’s mafia don.

Intriguingly, the franchise also gave Sirico one particular of his to start with likelihood to surface on monitor. He has an uncredited walk-on component in The Godfather: Aspect II, in which Caan also appears. The pair later became near good friends.

“He’s been capable to romanticise his earlier, toss in a several bangles and sparkles and use it as an actor,” Caan the moment reported of Sirico. “What you see is actually him – he just adds a tiny pepper, a little cayenne, to spice it up.”

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