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(Credit: HBO)

When the mob reached out to James Gandolfini about The Sopranos


“Those who want respect give respect.” – Tony Soprano

At its core, The Sopranos documented one man’s battle against the age-old truth that all ducklings eventually fly the nest. The 86 culture-changing episodes that followed, simply dealt with the repercussions as the pains of their parting came home to roost. As Tony’s high-flying ways were beset by panic attacks, it became clear that no matter how high a duck flies, it must come down for water. The ducks left and the tribulations that followed were mere ripples in the water.

Aside from this potent allegory, the story also soared on the back of some perfectly studied realism. The show’s account of mob life was not some far-fetched facsimile, instead, it seemed to capture the crime dynasty at its very heart and as such made for a far more gripping tale than a lot of its over-egged counterparts.

However, that is not to say that every detail of the show was drenched in reality. In fact, the mob even reached out personally to the late great James Gandolfini to give him a few pointers on how a Don really behaves in it what was no doubt a stirring moment for the actor. 

Appearing on the talk show Late Night with Seth Meyers, Michael Imperioli who played Christopher Moltisanti and Steve Schirripa who played Bobby ‘Bacala’ Baccalieri were sharing stories about their late friend and dishing the dirt on the behind-the-scenes antics surrounding the show. At one point, Imperioli recalled the moment that the mob even gave Gandolfini a direct phone call.  

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Remembering the rousing moment, Imperioli enthusiastically remembered: “Gandolfini got a call in the middle of the night. Anonymous call. He never figured out who it was. He answers the phone, and the guy says, ‘Listen, we like what you’re doing. You’re doing a really good job but know one thing: A never wears shorts.’ Click.” And that was it. The line went dead, and Tony Soprano soon started sporting long trousers thereafter. 

Aside from representing a wild moment for Gandolfini, for the crew, it provided a humorous pastiche of the mob watching the show and dissecting the happenings. Somewhere at Mafia HQ, it was comically deemed essential to try and put an end to the Don-smearing short, thus they took direct action.

It almost seems befitting, therefore, that Tony Soprano was also a stickler for sartorial details. Many fans will recall him roaring “Take your hat off” in the nuclear reversal of the Randy Newman song, ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’, as he demanded that a man removes his baseball cap while dining in a fine establishment. In short, it really is about a code of respect from top to bottom.