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The Sopranos, Edie Falco, Steven Van Zandt, Raging Bull, Acting and More: Robert Funaro Goes on the Record

Exclusive Interview by “Bad” Brad Berkwitt 

(Interview conducted in 2007)

“I can remember as far back to the fights of guys like Muhammad Ali, Jerry Quarry, and Joe Frazier who when they were boxing, I was always trying to catch them on TV.”–Robert Funaro

Italian American actor Robert Funaro is a born and bred New Yorker who wears it like a brand new pair of diamond cufflinks.  His works screams NYC. His voice echoes Brooklyn.  His passion for his work is unmatched.  He uses boxing throughout his various analogies about his acting career because he realizes that as he plies his trade day in and day out, he is like a boxer. The boxer goes to the gym. The actor to the studio.  Both work themselves to the bone to win the championship in their craft.

Funaro challenged for the title at an early point in his acting career just like fellow New Yorker, the late junior middleweight Davey Moore from the Bronx, did in just his ninth professional fight.  Davey struck Gold when he knocked out the Japanese Champion Tadashi Mihara to win the WBA Junior Middleweight Title.

In Bobby’s first attempt at the title, he faced a major champion in the television show, “The Sopranos.”  It was already a hit show and he was contacted personally by a friend he calls “Jimmy,” but is known to the rest of the world by the character name of Tony Soprano, who requested him to audition for the show.  Funaro entered that audition, with hands wrapped tight and boxing gloves on. His audition wowed the “Powers That Be” and the character who was known only in words as Eugene Pontecorvo, now had a live soul to channel the written word to the actor.

Pontecorvo was a member of the crew headed up by Ralph Cifaretto, and was one of the newer made guys in New Jersey; who got his button at the same ceremony as Christopher Moltisanti. That day, Eugene stood up in front of Tony Soprano and the rest of the family, and pledged his undying devotion to them, above any and all else.

Pontecorvo later learned the seriousness of that pledge, when he inherited $2 million from an Aunt. Seeing a chance to make a new life, both he and his wife devised a plan to move to Florida and asked Tony for permission to leave. But after considering it, Tony dispatched the trusted Capo Silvio Dante to inform Eugene that this wasn’t the NHL – there’s no retirement. Pressed hard by his near-hysterical wife and, suddenly, the Feds, who wanted him to be their new man on the inside of Tony’s crew, Pontecorvo took the only way out – he hanged himself.

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To read the rest of: The Sopranos, Edie Falco, Steven Van Zandt, Raging Bull, Acting and More: Robert Funaro Goes on the Record

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