Carmine "Little Carmine" Lupertazzi, Jr. is a fictional New York mobster in the HBO television series The Sopranos. He is played by actor Ray Abruzzo. Little Carmine is a Capo and the son of Carmine Lupertazzi, the leader of one of New York's Five Families.
Little Carmine is introduced in 2002 when Tony Soprano visits him in Miami to seek his counsel in regard to settling a dispute with Carmine Sr. While Little Carmine is initially viewed as a pompous blowhard whose constant malapropisms convey his poor intellect, he later becomes a thorn in the side of Carmine's underboss, Johnny Sack, and ultimately, instrumental to Tony Soprano in his taking down of Phil Leotardo.
In 2004, Carmine Lupertazzi Sr. has a massive stroke and dies a few days later. Little Carmine immediately comes up to New York from Florida for the funeral, and quickly becomes embroiled in a power struggle with Johnny Sack. Since Little Carmine is the son of the former boss, he has some claim, albeit tenuous, to the throne, and this angers Johnny to no end. Even Tony has no faith in Little Carmine's capacity to run New York, jokingly referring to him as "Brainless the Second." Despite his inexperience (Johnny describes Little Carmine as an "idiot" who spends his time "fixing wet t-shirt contests" in Miami Beach) Little Carmine finds backers in Carmine Sr.'s recently paroled, former consigliere, Angelo Garepe, and long-time Lupertazzi Capo Rusty Millio. Angelo and Rusty, along with Rusty's right-hand man Eddie Pietro, pull most of the strings during the war between Johnny and Little Carmine.
However, after a cycle of bloodshed that escalates into war, Little Carmine ultimately finds it difficult to stomach the continuing violence, and abdicates. His decision was heavily influenced by the murder of Angelo Garepe, one of the kingmakers who backed him. After Little Carmine's capitulation, Johnny Sack became the boss of the Lupertazzi Crime Family, and was arrested soon after by the FBI who were acting on information given to them by Johnny's trusted ally and consigliere Jimmy Petrille. With Johnny in federal custody during his trial, Phil Leotardo has become the acting boss in New York. In 2006, Little Carmine is brought in as an investor to a movie project that Christopher Moltisanti looks to get involved in. Little Carmine was instrumental in organizing a meeting with Sir Ben Kingsley to court his interest in the project but he eventually passed on a role.
Little Carmine is not shown with other Lupertazzi crime family members and appears to be keeping a low profile amongst the family. His other backer Rusty Millio was murdered because Johnny feared Rusty would back someone else to take over as boss while he was in prison - Johnny no longer seemed to consider Little Carmine a threat.
Johnny Sack, soon after being convicted of racketeering, develops lung cancer and dies in a prison hospital. After this, Tony Soprano approaches Little Carmine about taking control of the family. Little Carmine remarks '"You never thought you'd mutter those words.'" Little Carmine appears to have realized people generally do not consider him to be as clever or respected in the family business as his father, and despite his frequent malapropisms, he is at least smart enough to know what others think of him. Carmine then proceeds to tell Tony about a dream he had after his father died. In the dream, Carmine Lupertazzi was disappointed in Little Carmine. While Tony took this as a sign that Carmine wanted Little Carmine to succeed him as boss of the family, Little Carmine told Tony that the dream meant that Little Carmine did not have a full life. He also said that he had a near panic attack one day and his wife told him she wanted him to live a long and healthy life and not leave her a wealthy widow. In expressing this, he told Tony that he did not want to succeed Johnny Sack as the boss of the Lupertazzi Crime Family, that his interests and what made him happy were outside of the organization. This seems to make Tony quite envious of Little Carmine's situation.
Little Carmine and Tony both turned to a neutral party, George Paglieri, to broker a secret negotiation between Tony and "The Little Guy" Butch DeConcini, the acting/street boss for Phil Leotardo in hiding. Tony, attending with Paulie Gualtieri, and Butch, with Albie Cianflone, came to a decision that ended Phil's war between New Jersey and New York. Phil, though his specific location was not betrayed, was abandoned to Tony's revenge by the Lupertazzi administration, and restitution was offered to the Sopranos for the hit on Bobby Baccalieri.
- It is believed that the inspiration for Little Carmine's character is John A. Gotti, who was also groomed by his father to take over the reins, despite showing little of the intelligence, tactical brutality, or stomach needed for the job. At the same time, Little Carmine ultimately becomes representative as someone able enough to both remain a kingmaker, and enjoy life while staying out of prison, and in some respects is more of a "Michael Corleone" character who remains above the dirty street details of the mafia lifestyle.