Almost anyone who was a big fan of The Sopranos is also looking forward to the highly anticipated prequel of the series, The Many Saints of Newark. This film is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s in–you guessed it–Newwark, New Jersey.
As we prepare ourselves to dive back into the lives of the Moltisonti’s and the Soprano’s, let’s reminisce about the good old days by taking a look at things even the biggest fans of the early 2000’s series missed.
In the words of Tony Soprano, “Those who want respect, give respect.” Give respect by being honest here–how many of these moments did you catch the first time around?
Tony Sirico Had a Real Life Rap Sheet
Tony Sirico was an audience favorite in his portrayal of Paulie in The Sopranos. He was a trusted confidante who remained faithful to Tony to the end.
Many fans of the show didn’t know that Sirico had a real-life rap sheet before he got into acting. Sirico had been arrested 28 times and was sent to several prisons during his life of crime.
When he was cast in the show, he told the Director, David Chase, he would accept the role under one condition–regardless of the direction the show went in, under no circumstances would his character become a rat.
The show’s leadership agreed, and Sirico gave one of the strongest supporting performances in the series.
The Actress Who Played Tony’s Mom
The actress who played Tony’s Mom, Nancy Marchand, passed away between seasons one and two. She appeared again in season three!
Through the magic of television and technology, Tony got to have one final scene with Livia Soprano after the actress who played her passed away. The show’s director, David Chase, had a couple of options when it came to how Livia’s story would play out. He could either recast the actress who played her or forego his plans for the character by killing her off in the series.
Chase opted for the latter, which meant he had to CGI Marchand into season three using existing clips of the actress and audio files.
Did you spot this bit of technological magic the first time you watched the show?
Andrea De Matteo’s Big Break
Though Andrea De Matteo was a dynamic force throughout five seasons of The Sopranos, David Chase didn’t initially plan to use her past the pilot.
De Matteo, who played Adriana La Cerva–Christopher Moltisanti’s lover and later fiance–was initially cast in a cameo role as a hostess in the show’s pilot. While Chase clearly recognized the actress’ talent, he didn’t think she looked Italian enough to play Christopher’s love interest.
It wasn’t until HBO picked up the series that De Matteo was officially given the role. We’re so glad she was!
Paying Homage to The Godfather
This one is only for those who are on-screen gangsters at heart!
While you’re probably aware of the fact that The Sopranos often paid homage to The Godfather film trilogy, you may have missed some of the details along the way.
In The Godfather, oranges foreshadow death. That’s why Vito Corleone is shot after shopping for oranges. He dies after peeling an orange, and there are oranges on the table during the meeting of the heads of the five families, who later get killed.
In episode 12, Tony buys orange juice from an outdoor market; minutes later, two men attempt to kill him. Though the hit was unsuccessful, we think the bullet shooting directly through the orange juice container is a pretty bold callback. Even so, a lot of viewers missed it!
The Mob’s Telling Assumption
Sometimes art imitates life a little too closely. Such was the case with The Sopranos and the real-life mob.
In 1999, a group of New Jersey wiseguys was caught on a wiretap talking about the show. According to a New York Post article, a particular mob member asked, “Is that supposed to be us?” The group was amazed by how similar the characters and their activities were to their own experiences.
We’re not sure who to give the most credit to–the actors? The Director? The writers? We’ll go ahead and give credit to the entire ensemble on a job well done!
Dr. Melfi Was Tough to Play!
Lorraine Bracco is a fiery Italian woman–of her own admission–, and Dr. Melfi is not.
Bracco was first approached by the show’s creators to play Carmela (ultimately played by the beautiful and talented Edie Falco). Because Bracco had recently played a character similar to Carmela in Goodfellas, she turned down the role and asked to play Dr. Melfi instead. She was looking for a challenge, and boy did she find one!
Melfi is quoted on IMDB saying, “I was not ready for how […] difficult Dr. Melfi was to play. I am an explosive girl. I am loud. I am full of life […] and I have to sit on every emotion, every word, everything, to play this character.”
We’re glad she accepted the challenge!
Skinny Guys Need Not Apply
Steven Schirripa, who played Bobby Baccalieri, got a big surprise when he was cast as part of the principal cast.
When the actor got his first script he noticed several fat jokes at his expense. Schirripa thought there must be some mistake and wondered he if had been miscast.
It wasn’t until a couple days before the cast began filming that Schirripa was called in for a costume fitting, which included a fat suit.
He had to wear the fat suit through season three, but then Chase–the show’s director–allowed the actor to ditch the fat suit.
Schirripa told Vanity Fair, “[T]hen I guess, in season 4, David thought I was fat enough on my own, so he let me get rid of it.”
Fat suit or not, Bobby was a great character!
Real World Events
The first three seasons of The Sopranos featured the Twin Towers in the opening credits. Beginning with the first episode that aired after the terrorist attack in New York City on September 11, 2001, the towers were digitally removed from the opening.
A spokesman for the show said, “The feeling is that seeing the towers would be inappropriate after what happened.
*Spoiler Alert* Imperioli Shares His View On The Finale
If you happen to be one of the 3 or 4 people who haven’t seen this show yet, you might want to skip over this Things You Didn’t Know moment.
For the rest of us . . .
We know how the show ends. Yet, in true artistic fashion, even though we all saw the same thing happen, many of us have widely varying opinions on what it all means. There are generally two camps: one, Tony was shot in the restaurant with his family watching. Two, he wasn’t.
One of the show’s actors has been vocal concerning his perspective. Michael Imperioli (Christopher) is firmly in the first camp. In 2012 he told Vanity Fair, “I think he’s dead, is what I think. David was trying to put us in the place of the last things you see before you die. You remember some little details and something catches your eye and that’s it. You don’t know the aftermath because you’re gone.”
What do you think about the end of the series? We’re not trying to start a fight! We’re just curious . . .
Tony Wasn’t Supposed to Be That Tough
When David Chase first conceived of Tony Soprano he didn’t see him as the scary gangster we all came to know and love. He was supposed to be a little more fun, a little less terrifying.
As often happens when directors and actors get together, Gandolfini made choices during rehearsals and shots, and Chase followed the actor’s instincts. Chase told Written By magazine, “[Gandolfini] showed me early on how much of a prick that guy would have to be. […] That guy is surviving the mob. He’s really a dangerous person. He’s not a fun guy.”
As the show went on, Chase’s view changed to fit Gandolfini’s portrayal, and the scripts began to reflect their collaboration.