So authentic was his portrayal of Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero on the groundbreaking family crime drama "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1998-2007), that it was easy to dismiss Vincent Pastore's work on the series as not so much acting, but rather as someone merely playing themselves. For someone who came to his chosen profession late in life, Pastore demonstrated a surprising range when given the chance, as well as a dedication to the craft. A former New York nightclub owner, he was urged to take up acting by famous brothers and club frequenters Matt and Kevin Dillon. Pastore landed a substantial early role in the indie film "True Love" (1989), but was able to parlay the break into little more than extra work and bit parts in films like "GoodFellas" (1990) and "Carlito's Way" (1993). He made more headway with mob roles on television projects like "Gotti" (HBO, 1996) and "Mario Puzo's 'The Last Don'" (NBC, 1997), before landing the job of a lifetime as "Big Pussy" on the "Sopranos." Although his character did not survive beyond the series' second season, Pastore had secured himself a spot in the pantheon of Hollywood tough guys, going on to appear in dozens of films and television series over the next decade and remaining a constant media presence long after the Soprano family had shared their last meal.