Gina Tognoni Sings SOPRANOS

When GUIDING LIGHT’s Gina Tognoni (Dinah) landed a coveted guest spot on THE SOPRANOS, she was sworn to secrecy by the tight-lipped mob hit. Now that the first part of the season has wrapped (looked for more episodes in 2007), the actress can open up about her role as an insurance adjuster who crossed swords with Tony — without getting whacked.

“I couldn’t talk about it for almost a year,” reveals Tognoni. “They didn’t even let me know when it was going to air.”

Tognoni’s gig began with a shocker for the actress. “When I auditioned, it was for some character who would have been [involved with] Edie Falco (Carmela),” she explains. “Then, when I got the job, they said, ‘Report here on this day.’ I was told only seven hours before I was supposed to be there that it was James Gandolfini (Tony) that I was going to be working with. I was like, ‘Whoa!'”

Was Tognoni intimidated by the imposing Gandolfini? Fugeddaboudit!

“Working with him was amazing,” she praises. “He is such a powerful actor. He’s intense, but I wasn’t nervous at all. To have that level of talent around me was humbling and exciting and thrilling. It made me also very proud to be Italian and to be an American.”

But her character had a less proud moment when Tony infamously called her a very bad name for a certain female body part. “C-ya next Tuesday,” she jokes of the put-down. “I look back on it like, ‘God, what did I do that caused that?’ That’s a little much. We tried it a few different ways, and they stuck with that one.”

Tognoni, for her part, would be happy to stick with Tony and crew. “There was talk about this character that I played maybe recurring, so we’ll see,” she teases.