Robert Iler played AJ Soprano on The Sopranos, from 1999 to 2007, from the age of about 14 until he was 22, in one of the great “teen dickhead” performances of all time.
Of course, being on television during your awkward, formative years can be traumatic, and even when it isn’t, it can make your life pretty surreal. Iler, who’s 36 now, was on Alison Rosen’s podcast recently, where he attempted to describe what it’s like to be a former television star trying to meet prospective partners on dating apps. For the most part, Iler explained, it’s not that weird, and things aren’t that bad:
“I think now it’s like, everyone’s on these things, and then with Corona on top of that, it’s like, where else am I going to be? I’m very lucky, to me, in a way, because I don’t enjoy fame. Like that stuff doesn’t feel good to me — red carpets, I hate all that shit. But if I’m dating a girl who’s 30 years old, that means she would’ve had to be watching Sopranos when she was… 6? Or like 7 or 8 or whatever? So there’s actually not a lot of women under like 35 who know what Sopranos is, especially if they’re not from the East Coast.”
Ah, well, problem solved, I guess! Except that sometimes people accuse him of posing as the person he actually is:
“I’ve also had people write on there ‘You’re such a loser! You’re using AJ from the Sopranos‘ pictures,’ blah blah blah. Like people who think it’s not me. Girls have gotten really angry. Like, first messages. Like ‘this isn’t you, you f*ckin’ loser!’ So it’s like, the only girls who recognize me talk shit.”
Rosen asked Iler if any of his relationships had begun with this kind of non-traditional meet-cute. Iler, who grew up in Manhattan and since the Sopranos ended has gotten sober and taken up professional poker, explained:
“The way that that message felt, it wasn’t how I wanted to start what I was looking for. I’m looking for a long-term kind of thing, I wouldn’t have wanted it to start with ‘Hey, you fuckin’ loser!'”
Well sure, that makes sense.
Later in the show, Iler talked about his arrest when he was 16 (that he says the media totally got wrong), how the acting life had gotten stale after the Sopranos (mostly because his roles, co-stars, and bosses were never as cool as they were on The Sopranos), and getting sober eight years ago after taking 35 mollies on his birthday. These days he mostly works out a lot, is in a long-term relationship, and runs his own podcast. Which is to say, sounds like a pretty normal 30-something dude. Then again, as a guy who hosts a podcast about the Sopranos, I could be biased.
Incidentally, if you ever want to see some random assortments of celebrities, just image search Robert Iler in the aughts or early 2010s. I think this one was my favorite:
Dammit, Fez, what did we tell you about taking the ladies’ shirts.