James Gandolfini might have played a terrifying mobster on TV, but his co-stars say he was “more like a hippie”—with one major exception. Apparently, he once vowed to beat the baked ziti out of Harvey Weinstein.
Gandolfini’s Sopranos co-stars Steve Schirripa and Michael Imperioli—who played Bobby Baccalieri and Christopher Moltisanti—recalled the episode on the Joe Rogan Experience, as first reported by The Hollywood Reporter. Despite what some viewers might have thought, they agreed that Gandolfini was nothing like Tony Soprano.
“He was very laid back,” Imperioli said. “He wore Birkenstocks and a bandanna on his head.” Schirripa added that Gandolfini, a New Jersey native, was not particularly interested in playing the Hollywood game.
“He never wanted to do a talk show,” Schirripa said. “I would say, ‘Everyone thinks you’re Tony Soprano. Why don’t you pick, whether it be Letterman or whatever, and show them the real Jim? You’re a very intelligent guy.’ ... He never did a talk show. He did 60 Minutes. But he wouldn't do any of the talk shows; he said I’m not interesting.”
This refusal to do talk shows evidently led to some heated conversations between Gandolfini and Harvey Weinstein during the promotional cycle for the 2012 drama Killing Them Softly. One day in his trailer, Schirripa recalls Gandolfini was fuming because Weinstein wouldn’t stop pestering him to book an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman.
“He said, ‘Harvey Weinstein called,’” Schirripa said. “‘He wants me to do Letterman. I said I don't do talk shows.’ And [Weinstein] keeps calling... He got fucking nasty with Jim. And Jim said, ‘I will beat the fuck out of Harvey Weinstein! He fucking calls me again, I will beat the fuck out of him. For the money he paid me I’m not fucking doing it!’ Swear to God. And this was all before the Harvey Weinstein shit. When he was still the king shit.”