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The Quirk That Tony Sirico Shared With His Sopranos Character

One of the things that made The Sopranos so compelling was that even though it was a fictional story, it felt firmly based in reality. While the series dealt with organized crime — a topic that many of us will probably never have any direct experience with — its characters were so rich, so nuanced, that it ended up sometimes feeling like we knew them.

That was the case with Tony Soprano himself (the late great James Gandolfini) and his family, and for the men and women who were both in his inner circle and on his bad side. It was especially true of characters like "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri (Tony Sirico), a character whose paranoia, impulsivity, and fierce loyalty to the Soprano family helped him survive to the very end — and made him impossible to forget. 

Paulie Walnuts had a lot of unforgettable moments during his tenure on The Sopranos, many of them so violent that it's not really appropriate to document them here. However, it turns out one of his weirdest moments may have actually come more from the actor who played him than the character himself — at least, according to a couple of his cast mates. Let's find out what quirky characteristic from Tony Sirico seems to have made it into a scene from The Sopranos.

Tony Sirico had some unique hygiene habits during his days on the Sopranos set

There's a scene in the second season of The Sopranos, where Paulie Walnuts spends some, well, quality time with a sex worker. During her post-coital routine in their shared hotel room, he intervenes and offers (well, maybe "offers" is an understatement) some Binaca to help her keep her breath minty fresh. It's a quirky moment, in a long line of quirky moments from one of Tony Soprano's most memorable henchmen.

It's also, apparently, a moment that felt very true to life for Tony Sirico's co-stars. According to Steve Schirripa, who played Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri, Sirico was known for holding his cast mates to some high hygienic standards on the Sopranos set. "If you're doing a scene with him, he'd say, 'Open your mouth. Open your mouth. Blow the stink off. Blow the stink off.' And he sprays Binaca in your mouth," he recently revealed during the Talking Sopranos podcast, via YouTube. The actor also had a habit of dousing cologne on his cast mates, according to Schirripa and Sopranos star Michael Imperioli.

You can't fault the man for wanting a scene partner whose breath wasn't offensive. It seems like Schirripa and Imperioli remember Sirico's quirkier set habits pretty fondly, too. So whether you want to call it method acting, or just find it amusing that sometimes art really does imitate life, it sounds like Paulie Walnuts had a bit more of Tony Sirico in him than fans may have originally realized.