Even though he’s branched out to do a children’s show, a poker show and a slew of other non-Mob-related roles, Steve Schirripa will always have an association with “The Sopranos” and crime.
The 53-year-old actor from Bensonhurst is returning to the crime genre with his new reality series, “Nothing Personal” — about murder-for-hire cases — which debuts on Investigation Discovery on Wednesday.
amNewYork spoke with Schirripa about the show.
What brings you back to a crime show?
Well, I’m not all crime. I’m on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” — I’m a nice guy on that. I’ll tell you what: I like doing all different kinds of stuff. “The Sopranos” has given me, obviously, the opportunity to do a bunch of different things I would never have been allowed to do. Sports and crime are my two passions — not committing crimes, but knowing about them.
What is the mindset of a hit man?
I think you just get dull. I think at some point after they do their first or second, human life doesn’t mean a whole lot to some people. In the first episode, with [former hit man] Sal Miciotta, he seems like a pretty nice guy. He seems like a guy you may want to sit down and have a dish of macaroni with until you get to know what he does — you know what I’m saying?
Have you seen an over-arching theme in these stories?
Well yeah. It’s mostly, not always, money and greed and getting ahead monetarily in life. That seems to be an ongoing factor.
Did you know some of these unsavory types growing up in Bensonhurst?
I didn’t know they were mobsters and bad guys. It was just “Joey’s uncle” and “my friend Tommy’s brother” and “Mario’s father.” You just know them as neighborhood guys. Then one day you open the paper and you say, “I didn’t know the guy’s responsible for 10 killings.”
Does it worry you to do stories about hit men?
Worry me personally? Well, you know, I didn’t uncover the crime. I’m not snitching — but, you know, I’m just telling a story. I’m a storyteller, and these stories have been told — and really, that’s my role in the whole thing. We’re giving you behind-the-scenes stuff that people don’t know.
Do people ever just assume you’re in the Mob?
When I was playing the role on [“The Sopranos”] or playing other wise guys, I’ve had people come up and give advice or assume that I’m a mobster, which is far from the truth. I say, “I’m just an actor, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Which sports do you follow?
I’m a big Yankees fan and Knicks fan. I played basketball in college about 100 pounds ago, at Brooklyn College. I was a pretty good player. I go to a lot of Knick games — I do a lot of stuff with the Garden, I’m involved with them.
How do you feel about the Carmelo Anthony trade?
I think it was a great trade. How can you not? You’ve got two of the best players in the league now. Chauncey [Billups] is a trade up from Raymond Felton. … I think the Knicks got a chance to get one more piece of the puzzle and have a shot, if not this year, then next year, to be a contender.
On TV: “Nothing Personal” debuts on Investigation Discovery on Wednesday at 10 p.m.