Amid the whining, the self-loathing, and the violence, The Sopranos offered viewers plenty of laughs. While some jokes played on a character’s idiosyncrasies (e.g., urine on the shoelaces of germaphobe Paulie Walnuts), others came out of nowhere (e.g., Paulie demanding his Tupperware back).
In Season Two, with Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) in jail and Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) forced to deal with June’s capo Bobby Baccalieri (Steve Schirripa), Sopranos writers got to flex their muscles with a string of old-fashioned insult jokes.
Soon, you hear Tony refer to Bobby as a “calzone with legs.” Later, at a meeting on the street, he suggests that Bobby “seriously consider salads.” Coming from a guy not known for his slim waistline, you might wonder how Tony got the nerve to mock Bobby’s weight.
Schirripa definitely wondered about that. When he first read the script, he felt so confused he thought there was some mistake in the casting department.
Schirripa wondered if they cast a heavier person to play ‘Baccala.’
Looking back at his time on The Sopranos in 2012, Schirripa described his confusion when reading the script introducing Bobby. “I remember reading it going, ‘Wait a minute.’ I mean, Tony’s calling me ‘a calzone with legs,’” he told Vanity Fair.
Once he got to Tony’s salad recommendations and “fat f**k” slurs, he started thinking there’s been a mistake. Schirripa started comparing his body to Gandolfini’s to try and make sense of it. “I’m not that much bigger than him. So at first I thought, ‘Maybe they cast the wrong guy?’”
But they did not cast the wrong guy. In the eyes of the writers, Baccala was among the most obese characters on the show. You see it when Bobby puts both hands on the roof of his car so he can pull himself out to meet with Tony. (The crack about salads follows immediately after.)
Schirripa, who is heavy but not that heavy, didn’t understand it until he arrived on the set prior to his first day of shooting.
Schirripa wore a fat suit to play Bobby in the early seasons.
Prior to his first days shooting scenes for Season Two, Schirripa had to go in to get his look down. That’s when he learned he’d be wearing a fat suit to get the full “Baccala” effect. Suddenly, it all made sense to him. He would wear the fat suit for his first two seasons on the show.
However, when it came to shoot the following installment, something changed. From there on out, Schirripa lost the fat suit on the set. “I guess, in Season Four, David thought I was fat enough on my own, so he let me get rid of it,” he told Vanity Fair.
Sopranos fans surely remember another joke about weight moving the plot along in Season Four. That came when Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano) made a crack about the wife of Johnny Sack (Vincent Curatola). In that case, no one had any trouble understanding the punchline.
Also see: The Only ‘Sopranos’ Cast Members Who Weren’t Italian
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