The entire cast of The Sopranos sat down with Vanity Fair back in 2012 for the famous series’ oral history special, and while there were plenty of interesting anecdotes to parse, Steve Shirripa’s recollection of James Gandolfini’s touching act of generosity definitely stands out.
The action takes place after the fourth season, when the dispute was almost closed by The Sopranos. Gandolfini’s salary had already doubled from $5 million to $10 million after the success of the third season, but the actor began to demand more. Gandolfini and HBO eventually agreed on a $13 million deal (via insider).
“After the fourth season, Jim called all the regulars into his trailer and gave us $33,333 each,” Shirripa recalled. “Now there were a lot of big actors – Kelsey Grammer, Ray Romano – and they’re all good guys, I’m sure, but nobody gave their actors that kind of money,” Shirripa continued. “It’s like buying an SUV for everyone. He said, “Thank you for staying with me.”
Since The Sopranos easily boasted one of the biggest ensembles on television at the time, it certainly was no small feat. It just goes to show how much Gandolfini believed in his principles, that he was willing to give away so much money to his fellow cast members just to thank them for sticking with him and others who were at the time contesting their contracts. However, not everyone was so zealous in supporting the cast in their financial battle with HBO.
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