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Jamie-Lynn Sigler Says ‘Sopranos’ Dad James Gandolfini ‘Constantly’ Donated to MS Charities ‘For Me’

Jamie-Lynn Sigler Says James Gandolfini Donated to MS Charities 'For Me'
James Gandolfini and Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Jamie-Lynn Sigler had the full support of her Sopranos TV dad, James Gandolfini, when she found out about her multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

“I found out after his death that he donated to MS organizations constantly for me,” Sigler, 43, said on Tuesday, June 18, episode of the “Life Is Short With Justin Long” podcast.

Sigler was diagnosed with MS at the age of 20 after feeling “tingling” symptoms amid filming for seasons 3 and 4 of The Sopranos. She publicly shared her diagnosis 14 years later.

“In season 5, I was going through a divorce, and I wasn’t telling anybody about it,” she recalled to podcast host Justin Long. “And the MS was really starting to affect me, like, for instance, it affects your bladder. And I have to pee. And in the middle of a take, I’d be like, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I have to pee.’ And they’d be like, ‘What the f–k is wrong with her?’ Nobody asked me what was wrong … except Jim.”

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She continued, “He pulled me aside and was like, ‘Jamie, what is going on?’ I just fell into a puddle in his arms. I was just like, ‘I’m so scared, but I have MS, and I don’t know how to tell anybody.’ And he’s like, ‘Your secret’s safe with me.’ In that moment, he gave me his acting coach [and] said, ‘Jamie, this doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a good job, [but] everybody coaches and everybody needs it.’”

During Sigler’s early struggles with MS, she publicly concealed it from most of her colleagues and friends save for Gandolfini. (Gandolfini died at the age of 51 in June 2013 after suffering a heart attack.)

Jamie-Lynn Sigler Says James Gandolfini Donated to MS Charities 'For Me'
Robert Iler, James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler in ‘The Sopranos.’ Cover Images

“I’ve had it 22 years, [and] for the first 12 of them, I hid it. You couldn’t see it, you couldn’t see it when I walked [and] you couldn’t see anything wrong,” she said. “I would say after eight or nine years, there were definitely things that I was conscious of, like, really thinking how to walk normally and how to pick up my leg and how to place my foot. It consumed me and my life. I kept it a secret for the first 15 years. So, as I [was] working, my main focus was ‘How do I cover this up?’ It was very difficult.”

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According to Sigler, she chose to “kind of live in denial” about her illness by keeping her diagnosis a secret while filming The Sopranos.

“It felt safer to keep it to myself,” Sigler said, noting she publicly dealt with an eating disorder, Lyme disease and a divorce from A.J. DiScala while filming Sopranos. “As an actress, it, for sure, limited me [and] my ability to perform because I was so worried about the physicality of it.”

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