‘Sopranos’ star Tony Sirico laid to rest at Brooklyn funeral

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NEW YORK — Tony Sirico went home to New York for his funeral.

The “Sopranos” star, who died last week at 79, was laid to rest Wednesday at the Basilica of Regia Pacis in Brooklyn.

The solemn affair was overseen by his brother, Father Robert Sirico.

“The most obvious thing about my brother was the crusty, tough exterior that everyone saw and that he made a living off of. I’ve likened him to a good loaf of Italian bread. There were a lot of reasons for that intense bravado that I need not go into now; it’s efficient to say only that it was there for protection,” he said.

“As many of the professional actors who are here know, people often confuse the actor with the act. But you look beneath that tough, offensive armor ... you begin to see a softer, gentler interior. My brother had a deep capacity for interior reflection, even if it was coated with that tough, protective shell.”

Sirico was best known for his role as mobster Paulie Walnuts in “The Sopranos,” the hilarious, no-nonsense right-hand man to James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano.

His roles often stayed in the same theme, including “Goodfellas,” “Mob Queen” and “Gotti.”

“Given certain decisions he made, especially early in his life and in the roles he would play in a professional capacity, many will be surprised to hear me say that my brother had a moral compass,” Sirico said, telling a story about the first mass he gave at the Basilica of Regia Pacis, where his parents were also married, during which the actor refused to go to Communion because he had not done his confession yet.

“A few weeks ago, I saw my brother for the last time when I visited him in Florida, where he lived close to his faithful daughter, who tended to his every need in his last days. I sensed that the end was coming, so as we sat in a private location, I pulled out a confessional stole from my pocket and I looked into his eyes and I said, ‘how about that confession?’ My brother agreed and I did one of the most significant things that a priest can ever do for another human being: I absolved him of his sins.”