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James Gandolfini, The Sopranos
Via IMDb

James Gandolfini pushed back against a masturbation scene in the Sopranos

The scene, which was eventually cut, caused the actor’s ‘longest and strongest tantrum’, according to a new book on HBO

A new book on HBO’s legacy and broad-ranging influence, titled Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, reveals the masturbation scene that caused James Gandolfini to throw his “longest and strongest tantrum” on the set of The Sopranos.

As detailed in an excerpt from the book, shared via Vulture, it wasn’t unheard of for Gandolfini to “balk at a particular scene” and tell the show’s creator David Chase: “I’m not doing it.” Gandolfini himself has also said that “after a day of shooting, he often had to take a shower because he felt ‘dirty’ playing the role”.

The scene that provoked the strongest reaction from the actor, however, saw his character — mob boss Tony Soprano — “dash into a gas-station bathroom and masturbate”. This was during a storyline that revolved around his affair with realtor Julianna Skiff (played by Julianna Margulies).

“But even that time, despite his earlier protests,” writes the author of the HBO chronicle, James Andrew Miller, “Gandolfini relented and played the scene as written.”

Despite the fact it was filmed by a reluctant Gandolfini, the scene in question never actually made it into the show, as it was edited out of the finished episode. “To his credit, Gandolfini never complained to Chase that the difficult scene ended up on the cutting-room floor,” Miller adds.

Back in September, James Gandolfini’s son, Michael Gandolfini, spoke about the pressure of playing Tony Soprano as a younger man in the Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark. At the time, he also hinted at his father’s feelings toward the character, saying: “My dad didn’t want me to see Tony Soprano – the violence, the angry, the mean.”

Read Michael Gandolfini’s full Dazed interview about becoming a young Tony Soprano here.