In a recent interview, Lorraine Bracco shares her displeasure regarding her final scene as Dr. Melfi on The Sopranos. The crime drama, produced by HBO and created by David Chase, follows the multifarious life of New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano as portrayed by the late James Gandolfini. In the series, Tony attempts to navigate his complicated life as the consequences of his criminal business affairs often intertwine with the complexities of his own home and family. Due to a panic attack, Tony finds himself undergoing regular therapy sessions with psychiatrist Dr. Melfi. Over the course of the series, he attempts to work through the various intricacies of his life in hopes to make sense of it all.
Bracco’s connection to The Sopranos kicked off when Chase asked her to read for the role of Tony’s wife, Carmela Soprano. However, after reading the script, Bracco initiated a meeting and convinced Chase that psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi was the character she was more attracted to portray. Chase obliged, and the actress was subsequently nominated for three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Bracco’s last appearance on The Sopranos came in the episode entitled “The Blue Comet” where Dr. Melfi learns of a study making claims that sociopaths tend to take advantage of talk therapy. Armed with this new information, Dr. Melfi abruptly ceases all connection to the New Jersey mobster in what becomes Bracco’s final scene on the show.
In a recent sitdown on Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripas’ Talking Sopranos podcast, Bracco shared her displeasure with Dr. Melfi’s exit from The Sopranos. Bracco emphasizes how she felt short-changed by her character’s exit from the show. The actress then explained how upset she was with Chase and how much she disagreed with the direction he ultimately took the relationship between herself and Tony. Bracco stated how she would have liked the ending to be more meaningful, that she genuinely believed Dr. Melfi cared for Tony even though he was as messed up as he was. At the very least, Bracco exclaimed that she would have liked Tony to “tell her off” once she confronted him with the study about sociopaths. See Bracco’s exact comments below:
I remember being upset [with] the direction that David [Chase] was bringing Melfi. I just felt like he wanted me to get rid of [Tony]. I felt that he did it in a very abrupt way. I don’t think that she should have done it that way. I would have liked for it to have been more meaningful. I think she cared for Tony. Even though he was a fuck-up and he was never going to really straighten out. But I think she really cared for him. You don’t spend seven years with someone and [then] discard them. I felt bad about that.
Many years after the series’ infamous and controversial cut-to-black, it is interesting to continuously witness how the various viewpoints and opinions trickle out into the public eye. Bracco’s opinion as a central character to the story certainly holds weight, and this interview goes to show that the firey actress has no qualms about sharing it. Nevertheless, in the time after her disappointing departure, Bracco moved on to gain recurring roles in Showtime’s comedy series Dice and CBS’s police drama Blue Bloods.
Although Bracco’s role in The Sopranos began to decline after the third season, Dr. Melfi and Tony’s relationship ultimately set the stage for the entire show. Dr. Melfi’s office, and the pair’s discussions within, helped Tony break down much of what was going on around him. This was true despite whether or not he could be outright honest regarding the types of affairs he was engaged in as the leader of a crime family. A majority of The Sopranos fanbase likely agrees with Bracco and her opinion that the character could have had a far more meaningful send-off. However, in true Chase fashion, audiences do not always get what they want, they get what they get. Given the nature of this interview, the same seemingly holds true for the actors Chase casts in his shows.