November 18, 2004 08:00 AM

Ruthless as he is, even Tony Soprano doesn’t want to run afoul of U.S. troops.

James Gandolfini, the actor who plays the mob boss on HBO’s hit series The Sopranos, showed up to entertain American soldiers as part of a USO-Armed Forces Entertainment tour in the Persian Gulf, the Associated Press reports.

Gandolfini was joined by Tony Sirico, who plays Soprano family underboss Paulie Walnuts on the show. The pair signed autographs, posed for pictures and watched movies with the troops.

The USO-AFE tour has brought a number of other celebrities to the Middle East recently, including rapper 50 Cent, country star Toby Keith, comedians Tom Green and Rob Schneider, and Las Vegas mainstay Wayne Newton.

While the mob bosses were overseas, the rest of the extended Sopranos family was busy at home. With the next — and final — season of the Mafia drama not set to begin until March 2006, the other cast members were busy in a variety of pursuits, the New York Post reports.

Edie Falco, who plays Tony’s wife Carmela, is appearing on Broadway in ‘Night, Mother, and Michael Imperioli, who plays Soprano nephew Christopher Molitisanti, and John Ventimiglia, who plays restaurateur Artie Bucco, were both in off-Broadway productions. Dominic Chianese, aka Uncle Junior, is also in an off-Broadway show.

“All of us were doing stuff before The Sopranos,” Imperioli tells the Post. “Now we have the luxury of being known in our profession, and can use that to do the stuff we want to do.”

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