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“The Sopranos” star Robert Iler says Tony Sirico was his protector on the set.

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"The Sopranos The Sopranos' star Robert Iler says Tony Sirico helped him during filming.
“The Sopranos” star Robert Iler says Tony Sirico was his protector on the set.
  • Robert Iler shared a heartwarming tribute to Tony Sirico. Tony Sirico during a recent podcast episode.
  • According to Iler Iler, His “Sopranos” costar offered the young actor protection on the set and off.
  • “If anyone ever bothers you… you tell Uncle Tony, okay?” Iler recalled Sirico telling him.

“The Sopranos” star Robert Iler shared an incredible story about his deceased costar Tony Sirico during a recent podcast.

According to Iler, who was Tony’s son AJ in every season of the cult HBO series, Iler was never concerned about being preyed by or bullied on the set.

“I’m like, you think Tony Sirico was standing around, if people were eyeing me the wrong way, like ‘Oh, Rob looks cute today,’ Tony Sirico is just gonna stand there and not do anything?” Iler recalled this in an episode of “Pod Yourself a Gun,” the “Sopranos” rewatch podcast.

This actor was only 14 when he appeared in the critically acclaimed drama. Sirico even sat down with him to inform Iler that he was watching out for the young actor.

“Hey, uh, if anyone ever… bothers you, or anybody says anything, you tell Uncle Tony, okay?” Iler recalled Sirico telling him.

Sirico’s words may have also given Iler confidence in his off-set, mainly when working with kids from the school. Iler spoke to podcast hosts Matt Lieb and Vince Mancini that the last time he thought, “Oh, this kid thinks he’s going to talk at me? I’ll need Tony Sirico to come down.”

“No matter how old you are, you see somebody that has like black hair here, and silver hair on the sides — and just the way he always had a handkerchief in his pocket… you go like, this dude will fuck you up,” Iler said.

Sirico was an empathetic and outgoing criminal Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri on “The Sopranos” for all six seasons. The actor, who was 79, passed away on Friday and was paid a posthumous tribute via Twitter by several of his actors.

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