Being a child star isn't easy, but The Sopranos' Robert Iler had a seasoned professional in Tony Sirico to help him navigate life as a working actor. Iler recently opened up about how Sirico, who died July 8 at the age of 79, made him feel comfortable and safe both on set and at school.
Speaking on the Pod Yourself a Gun podcast, Iler, who was just 12 years old when he started playing AJ Soprano, the son of Tony (James Gandolfini) and Carmela (Edie Falco), revealed that Sirico made sure he was never bullied or harassed.
"When all the molesting stuff gets talked about... people always say to me, 'Did anything happen like that on your set?'" Iler said. "And I'm like, you think Tony Sirico was standing around, if there were people eyeing me the wrong way, like 'Oh, Rob looks really cute today,' Tony Sirico is just gonna stand there and not do anything?"
Iler revealed that while shooting the second or third episode of the series Sirico came up to him and said, "Hey, uh, if anyone ever... bothers you, or anybody says anything, you tell Uncle Tony, okay?"
The Sopranos star added that the protection of a real-life gangster gave him confidence. "That's how I felt in f*cking school, too," he recalled. "Like I was 13 years old and I was like oh, this kid thinks he's gonna mouth off to me? I'll have Tony Sirico come down."
"No matter how old you are," Iler continued, "You see somebody that has like black hair here, and silver hair on the sides — and just the way he always had a handkerchief in his pocket — you go like this dude will f*ck you up."
The Sopranos is available to stream on HBO Max.
People are talking about The Sopranos in our forums. Join the conversation.
Kirstie Renae is a writer, blogger, and Austin-based actress with a penchant for binge-watching TV with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter @KirstieRenae.
TOPICS: The Sopranos, HBO, HBO Max, Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, Tony Sirico