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How A Sopranos Dispute Led James Gandolfini To Give Each Of His Co-Stars $33K

The entire cast of “The Sopranos” sat down with Vanity Fair back in 2012 for a special oral history of the acclaimed series, and while there were plenty of interesting anecdotes to parse out, Steve Schirripa’s remembrance of James Gandolfini’s touching act of generosity definitely stands out.

The story takes place after the fourth season, when a pay dispute almost shut down “The Sopranos.” Gandolfini’s salary had already been doubled from $5 million to $10 million following the success of the third season, but the actor began holding out for more. Gandolfini and HBO eventually agreed on the number of $13 million (via Insider).

“After Season 4, Jim called all the regulars into his trailer and gave us $33,333 each, every single one of us,” Schirripa recalled. “Now, there were a lot of big actors — Kelsey Grammer, Ray Romano — and they’re all nice guys, I’m sure, but nobody gave their cast members that kind of money,” Schirripa went on. “That’s like buying everybody an S.U.V. He said, ‘Thanks for sticking by me.'”

Since “The Sopranos” boasted easily one of the biggest ensembles on television at the time, that was certainly no small feat. It just goes to show how strongly Gandolfini believed in his principles that he was willing to hand out that much money to his fellow cast members just to thank them for holding out with him and the others who were disputing their contracts at the time. Still, not everyone supported the cast so fervently in their financial battle with HBO.



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