Whether playing a mobster as he did on The Sopranos or a cop as he does on CBS’ Blue Bloods, Steve Schiripa gives off a vibe of a guy who gets the job done with a minimal amount of nonsense.
Schirripa continued to work in Las Vegas as the entertainment director at the Riviera Hotel even during his first year on the hit HBO mob drama. He reflects on his acting career taking off at the age of 40 and answers our “7 Questions.”
- What were a few of your first jobs before you got into acting? I was an entertainment director and a bouncer in a few clubs in Vegas. There were some big guys — crazy guys. Those places open 24 hours, and they were packed. It was insanity. They were rough places. I was young, and I was in better shape. I got through it. It was a scary job, but a fun job for a guy from Brooklyn who hadn’t been many places and was now around movie stars and showgirls and Vegas executives and Vegas wiseguys.
- What’s a movie you can watch over and over and never get tired of? I like The Dirty Dozen. I watched The In-Laws the other night with Peter Falk. The Godfather: Part II.
- What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry? I am always on a diet and never on a diet. Salami. I am a big cheese guy, and I like Diet Snapple — the peach or lemon.
- What might surprise people about you? I am a little smarter than you think. I am not into the mob thing. People assume. I have never said “fuggedaboutit” in my life. I am not in that world. People think that because of the show. I am just a regular guy who happens to have a really good job.
- What’s the biggest splurge item you bought when you finally had some money? A convertible, a Camaro, with a T-top. I bought it after, as soon as The Sopranos ended. I had a house we had built in Vegas. The first thing I did was pay off the house. It’s on an acre of land. If they kill me off, we go back to Las Vegas and live in our house that is paid off. The second thing is, I was afraid to buy something. You never knew when you were going to be off the show. When the show ended, I bought a three-bedroom condo in New York, overlooking the Hudson.
- If you weren’t an actor, what would you be? I guess I would still have to be in the entertainment business. I had no desire to move. My wife and kids were born out there. I was booking a lot of comics. I had opened an agency. I would be in that world, booking acts.
- Tell us about a time you were starstruck. I met Sinatra. He was, of course, everybody’s hero. I was at a party. He was drunk. He walked in with a bottle of Jack and a Members Only jacket with his name on it — like no one would know who he was! It was Jilly Rizzo’s birthday party, and it was about one in the morning. Don Rickles and Jerry Vale were there, and Sinatra was playing at Bally’s. It was a little dinner, maybe 20-25 people, tops. At the end I said, “I gotta get a picture with him.” We had a disposable camera. And now it is four in the morning. My wife — at the time she’s 24 — says, “Hang on, Frank. I want to get one!” And he says, “Come here, sweetheart.” He put his arm around her waist. That was the one time.
Blue Bloods airs on CBS at 10pm ET on Fridays. Season 9 begins tonight