Actor Steve Schirripa could recently be seen in "Blue Bloods" and "Benders."Photo Credit: Steve Schirripa.

Actor Steve Schirripa could recently be seen in “Blue Bloods” and “Benders.” Photo Credit: Steve Schirripa.

There is no mistaking Steve Schirripa’s voice on the phone: deep, raspy, easygoing. That, paired with his macho persona and Italian-American background, has always made him the perfect actor to play the quintessential “wise guy” — you know, the likes of characters from classics like Goodfellas (1990) and The Godfather (1972). He even got his start as an extra in the infamous and bloody pen-stabbing scene out of Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995), and has been acting ever since.

From Brooklyn, New York to Hollywood’s silver screen, Schirripa landed several roles in movies after that, including The Runner (1999) and Joe Dirt (2001). But his claim to fame really began with HBO’s The Sopranos, playing Tony Soprano’s (James Gandolfini) dense but likable mobster brother-in-law, Robert “Bobby Bacala” Baccalieri.

“Because of that role, a lot of doors opened,” says Schirripa in an exclusive interview with GALO. “Before that, I didn’t really have a career, ya know?”

We don’t realize it, but it’s been eight years since The Sopranos has been on the air. So what has Schirripa been up to since then?

Well, after six seasons of guns, violence and flashy suits, the humble actor moved on to playing his most true-to-self role yet — Leo Boykewich on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Schirripa starred as a suburban dad trying to deal with his hormonal teenage son, Ben (Ken Baumann).

“I just played a regular dad, and that’s what I am in real life. I was closer to that guy than I was to Bobby, who was a nice guy but a wise guy. So I enjoyed playing that role a lot,” he explains.

“Now I’m playing various wise guys, [and] that’s how it’s always gonna be. I mean, I’m not gonna play an English professor, ya know? I’m a blue collar guy,” he adds.

That includes his recent portrayal of Vito, a hustler who shakes down a men’s ice hockey team in IFC’s new comedy series Benders.

Despite the fact that Schirripa plays the wise guy well and often, he hungers for more diverse roles and opportunities that challenge his intellect.

“There’s only so many ways you can do the wise guy thing. I don’t think it gets any better than The Sopranos,” he says. “[Offers for those types of roles] come around weekly almost.”

With a resume that includes everything from commercials and voiceover work to theater and television appearances — Schirripa has been on shows such as Law and Order and My Fake Fiancé — this versatile actor has made it clear that he can wear many hats.

But that’s not all — he’s also corresponded for Jay Leno on The Tonight Show; hosted and produced several TV shows like Karma’s a B*tch! on Investigation Discovery and NBC’s poker game show, Face the Ace; and written 6 books, one of which, Nicky Deuce: Welcome to the Family, was turned into a Nickelodeon movie starring several of his Sopranos costars.

Last year, he even put his Italian taste buds and mother’s recipe to good use and launched his own healthier line of organic, gluten free sauces called “Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties.” Now in over 2,200 stores, Schirripa has proven that in addition to acting, producing and writing, he can cook, too.

“[The] Sopranos, of course, gave me the opportunity to open doors, but if it’s not a good product, [then people] don’t care,” he says.

“I’m not a jar sauce guy,” he adds. “Before we started this, I never ate sauce out of a jar. [But] I really believe if you taste the sauce once, you’re a customer.”

You won’t see Schirripa’s mug on his homey marinara, arrabiata and tomato and basil jars, but you can see him next on the CBS show Blue Bloods playing a DA investigator. Ever the multi-talented multitasker, Schirripa will keep on trying to shake down the wise guy persona and surprise us with every project he undertakes.

“That’s a stretch playing a cop — finally a good guy,” he says.

Video courtesy of Uncle Steve Schirripa.

Want to know what Steven Schirripa is up to? Follow him on his Twitter @StevenSchirripa to stay up to date on his current and upcoming endeavors! And for those looking to try one of his sauces, you can find more information on his specialties by clicking here.