The anecdote is described in Woke Up This Morning, an oral history of the series written by two of the show’s stars, Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, who played Christopher Moltisanti and Bobby Bacala.
In the book, guest star Peter Riegert, who played Assemblyman Ronald Zellman in seasons three and four, recalls Gandolfini’s intervention while filming the seventh episode of season four.
“I show up at the [table] read and find out what I was going to be doing,” Riegert said (via Insider). “The scene was Tony beating the living s*** out of me with a belt, but in the scene description, it’s written that he pulls my underwear off… I was going to be naked. As far as I’m concerned, I would have liked a heads-up on that.”
Riegert said he was “not happy” about the scene change. Gandolfini checked up on him and discovered this, calling over series creator David Chase to get the full-frontal nudity removed.
“I didn’t know whether I was going to get fired or not, but Jimmy said to me, ‘Whatever you decide to do, I promise you I will have your back,’” Riegert said.
“The thing was, at that table read, I didn’t realise that Jim recognised, on my face, that there was an actor in trouble. And he made it so it was my choice.”
You can read The Independent’s recent interview with Imperioli and Schirripa here.
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