Actor Tony Sirico, best known for his role as a mafia henchman on the The Sopranos, has died aged 79.
He memorably portrayed Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, a fictional mobster playing a key role in an organised crime ring in the US state of New Jersey.
Co-star Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti, led tributes to him.
“Tony was like no one else: he was as tough, as loyal and as big hearted as anyone I’ve ever known,” he said.
Imperioli wrote on Instagram that the two actors “found a groove as Christopher and Paulie”.
“I am proud to say I did a lot of my best and most fun work with my dear pal Tony. I will miss him forever. He is truly irreplaceable.”
Sirico was 55 years old and sleeping on a cot at his mother’s house in Brooklyn when he was cast in the iconic role that would win him two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
He played gangsters in more than a dozen other mob movies, including Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas.