Robert Patrick was the latest guest on Michael Imperioli and Steven Schirripa’s “Talking Sopranos” podcast (via Uproxx), and he told a memorable story of performing a beatdown scene with the late James Gandolfini during his three-episode arc as Davey Scatino in the show’s second season. Patrick’s character was a gambling addict and childhood friend of Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano.
“I had never met Mr. Gandolfini,” Patrick said. “I am out front on a bench smoking a cigarette with Jimmy after we’d just done this read through. And we’re trying to get to know each other a little bit because we’re supposed to be high school buddies. As the conversation was winding up, I said to him, ‘You know the scene where you come to get your money, you better bring your fucking A-game.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘Oh, I’ll bring my fucking A-game.’”
Patrick said Gandolfini flicked his cigarette at him, making it clear the challenge was accepted. Cut to the filming of the beatdown scene, and Gandolfini most definitely brought his A-game. Before they filmed the confrontation, Gandolfini asked Patrick, “How’s your balls?” Patrick responded, “They’re fine. I’m hungover.”
“[Gandolfini said], ‘Let’s do this fucking scene,'” Patrick said. “And he scared the living shit out of me. I was so intimidated. What a fantastic experience.”
Patrick and Gandolfini filmed the beatdown in just one take. Patrick’s guest role on “The Sopranos” was one of his first major television appearances after voice-only roles on series such as “Superman: The Animated Series” and “The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest.” The actor had already made a name for himself in film with his role in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
“The Sopranos” is having a bit of a renaissance moment with interest in the HBO mafia-family drama higher than ever thanks to quarantine viewing in 2020 and alumni-hosted podcasts like “Talking Sopranos” and Drea de Matteo’s “Made Women.” There’s also the upcoming release of “The Many Saints of Newark,” a “Sopranos” prequel movie written by franchise creator David Chase and directed by Alan Taylor. The film opens in theaters and HBO Max starting October 1.