After years of ducking the press, and his own manager, actor Robert Iler sat down for a rare interview to talk about his life since The Sopranos ended in 2007. Iler famously played Tony Soprano’s youngest child and only son A.J. on the hit HBO series and then seemingly disappeared, except for a few small roles here and there. But thanks to an invitation from his old co-stars Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, Iler briefly stepped back into the spotlight on Monday by dialing into their Talking Sopranos podcast.
Speaking candidly with Imperioli and Schirripa, Iler revealed that after The Sopranos ended, he told his manager he wanted to take six months off to just play poker and hang out. Those six months turned into years, and Iler found himself battling drug and alcohol addiction while being uninterested in acting work unless he could use it to get out of jury duty. But the young actor is now seven years sober, and he’s not afraid to speak candidly about his struggles and his inability to revisit his golden days on The Sopranos, especially following James Gandolfini’s death.
“I have not seen 80 percent of the episodes,” Iler explained, calling it “torture” to watch Gandolfini now. “He met me when I was 12 … and it was very father figure. He always told me if you ever have any problems, you can call Uncle Tony. He came to my Confirmation in a three-piece pinstripe suit, gave me a kiss on the cheek and a card with cash.”
While he may not want to open old wounds by watching old episodes, Iler did reveal that he’s working on a podcast with Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played his sister Meadow Soprano on the HBO series. He also admitted to feeling the acting bug after recently watching the latest season of Ozark, so we could be seeing more of the young actor in the days ahead.