The Sopranos: James Gandolfini received ‘disturbing’ late night phone call that inspired famous line

Co-star has explained the creepy origins of ‘a don never wears shorts’

Louis Chilton
Friday 19 November 2021 07:35
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The Sopranos - series trailer

One of the most famous lines in The Sopranos was allegedly inspired by a “disturbing” late-night phone call that James Gandolfini received.

That’s according to a new behind-the-scenes history of the show, written by series stars Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa.

In the book, entitled Woke Up This Morning, Imperioli describes the origin of a line in which mob boss Tony Soprano (Gandolfini) is told “a don never wears shorts”.

“The story goes like this: Gandolfini got a call in the middle of the night on his cell phone, it was an unknown number,” Imperioli wrote in the oral history. “He answers the phone, ‘Hello,’ and the guy on the other line says, ‘Hello,’ and then nobody’s talking.

“The guy doesn’t identify himself,” he continued. “Guy finally says, ‘Listen, you’re a great actor, we like what you’re doing, but you got to know one thing: ‘A don never wears shorts.’ And, ‘click’, the guy hung up.”

In the series, this line is spoken to Tony in the season four premiere by rival New York mafia don Carmine Lupertazzi.

Though Tony is not seen wearing shorts for the majority of the series, he was seen wearing them in the show’s very first episode during a barbecue.

“I think Jim was disturbed by it,” Imperioli added, addressing the late-night phone call. “Who knows who made the call — but the invasion of privacy is definitely disturbing.”

You can read The Independent’s recent interview with Imperioli and Schirripa here.

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