Paulie Walnuts was many things, but the mobster was no bully.
In the days following Tony Sirico’s death, the cast and crew of “The Sopranos” have come out in droves to remember the man forever known as Paulie Walnuts. Sirico’s acting talents and sense of humor have been widely celebrated, but “Sopranos” creator David Chase wants fans to know that Sirico was also a natural writer. Chase revealed that Sirico was the only actor who ever convinced the showrunner to alter a script, in a new interview with Vulture.
“I will say, Tony was part of one of the greatest casts of all time,” Chase said. “It was certainly the greatest cast I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with some incredible casts. But he was the only one who ever asked me to have a line changed. And I did it. ”
It turns out that Sirico wasn’t concerned with any of his own dialogue, but was worried about the way someone else described his character.
“Another character was talking about Paulie, and they said he was a bully. Tony didn’t like that, ”Chase said. “He asked me to take the word‘ bully ’out of there. And I did. ”
Considering the crimes that Paulie commits on the show, and the character’s own prediction that he’d be sentenced to 6,000 years of purgatory after dying, being labeled a bully might seem like a relatively minor charge. But while Chase doesn’t remember what word he replaced it with, he has not forgotten Sirico’s passionate hatred of the word “bully.”
“The important thing is, he didn’t like that word. He didn’t like it at all, ”Chase said. “I wonder if [his past had] something to do with why he was so sensitive about it. Maybe he had been a bully as a young man. I’ve seen a picture of him as a young man standing out in the street next to a parking meter with a tank top on. Flexing his muscles, you know. He looked the part. ”
The incident wasn’t the only time that Sirico demanded influence over the show’s scripts. When he was first offered the part of Paulie Walnuts, the former convict agreed to take the role on the condition that his character never became a rat. Though several of Tony Soprano’s other confidants eventually worked against him as government informants, Paulie remained loyal to the end.