The Sopranos is one of the most influential shows in television history and remains one of the most acclaimed series of all time. The compelling exploits of mod boss Tony Soprano and his family made for riveting television. It is one of those shows that you can return to again and again without ever getting sick of watching.
However, for even the most loyal fans of the show, there are likely still a number of details that you might have missed. From the behind-the-scenes preparation to the actors’ methods to the unseen bits of trivia, there is still a lot to uncover with the show. Here are some hidden details you might have missed about the main characters of The Sopranos.
Goodfellas Cast Members
Despite being a ground-breaking bit of television and influencing plenty of shows that came after, The Sopranos also drew inspiration from other works as well. Being that it is a show about the mob, the series paid homage to many of the great films on that subject, especially Goodfellas.
Martin Scorsese’s mob masterpiece is at the top of its genre and several of The Sopranos‘ cast members even appeared in that film. Of course, Lorraine Bracco played Karen Hill and Michael Imperioli played Spider. There was also Frank Vincent who had a memorable role as Billy Batts, and Vincent Pastore and Tony Siciro appeared in small roles.
Gandolfini’s Method Acting
Though he was an accomplished and acclaimed character actor by the time he got the role of Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini became a household name thanks to the show. Despite the huge cast of talented actors, much of the show rested on Gandolfini’s shoulders, and he proved more than up to the challenge.
While he was regarded as an absolute pleasure to work with, Gandolfini often used method acting to access Tony’s darker moods. Apparently, he would put a peddle in his shoe to irritate himself when Tony was meant to be in a foul mood and would even stay up all night just to achieve Tony’s tired look in the morning scenes.
Though some may have forgotten, Jon Favreau had a role in the show during its second season. Favreau played a fictional version of himself, directing a movie in which Christopher was a consultant on.
Favreau talked about the experience during an episode of his talk show Dinner for Five. He explains that when he was first approached about joining the show, he was written in a very flattering way. However, Favreau insisted it be changed so that he came off as more of a wimp and be ridiculed by the other characters.
Steve Van Zandt As Tony
One of the most likable characters on the show is Silvio Dante, one of Tony’s oldest and most loyal friends. In an inspired bit of casting, Silvio was played by Steve Van Zandt who was best known as the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band.
Though he had no previous acting experience, Van Zandt proved to be perfect for the role. However, the show’s creator David Chase originally wanted to see Van Zandt try out for the role of Tony. Van Zandt chose not to audition, as he felt he should not be taking the lead role from an experienced actor
Loraine Bracco As Carmela
A fascinating aspect of the show was the examination of Tony’s mental state and his continued participation in therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). The intense and insightful scenes between these two characters make for some of the best moments in the show.
However, Bracco was originally considered for another important female role in Tony’s life: his wife Carmela. Though she was the first choice for that role, Bracco decided it was too similar to her famous role in Goodfellas and chose to pursue the Melfi role instead.
Director Steve Buscemi
As the popularity of the show crew, gome big-name actors joined the cast in supporting roles. One of the most memorable additions was Steve Buscemi as Tony’s cousin, Tony Blundetto. Buscemi was a welcome addition to the show, even scoring an Emmy nomination for his Season 5 performance.
But Buscemi’s involvement in the show actually goes back further than that. He has directed four episodes for the series, including “Pine Barrens,” which is labelled the best episode in the series.
Christopher The Writer
Christopher was one of the more complex characters in the series. Though he was a key member of Tony’s crew, Christopher struggled with his own demons and didn’t seem to have his heart in the career of organized crime like the rest of the guys. In fact, he often tries to make it as a Hollywood screenwriter.
Though Christopher might not have what it takes to be a successful writer, actor Michael Imperioli was one of the most accomplished writers in the cast. Prior to the show, he wrote the Spike Lee film Summer of Sam, and is the only cast member to have written for the show, penning five episodes.
Adriana was a character whose importance continued to grow as the show went along. Though she was initially Christopher’s girlfriend without given much to do, she gradually developed into her own character with her own compelling storyline that ended in tragedy.
Interestingly, Adriana’s beginnings on the show go back to a wordless role in the show’s pilot. Actor Drea DeMatteo can be seen in the first episode as a hostess in the restaurant scene. It is not until later episodes that she is introduced as Christopher’s girlfriend.
Tony Siciro’s Gangster Past
Paulie Walnuts is one of the most entertaining characters on the show. Though he is a man capable of violence, just like any of Tony’s crew, he is also a hilarious and ridiculous person. His outrageous tidbits of trivia and observations make him one of the series’ funnier characters.
However, actor Tony Siciro is actually the cast member whose real life most closely mirrors the show. Siciro was previously affiliated with a life in organized crime, even going by the nickname “Junior,” which is used in the show. When asked to be on The Sopranos, Siciro’s only stipulation is that his character Paulie would never rat on other characters.
Nancy Marchand’s Death
Much of the early seasons of the show focused on Tony’s very complicated relationship with his ailing mother. Though it’s clear they have serious problems as family members, the relationship deteriorates even more and her past abuses are explored in more disturbing detail.
Sadly, actor Nancy Marchand died before the third season was filmed. A final scene between the characters was created using digital technology before the character of Livia Soprano was killed off.
Even with the difficult subject matter, the show always strived to be as authentic to the world they were trying to depict. Apparently, they usually achieved this goal with James Gandolfini claiming he had been contacted by several real mobsters and commended for the show’s accuracy.
However, one slip-up that was noted came in the first episode. After featuring a scene in which Tony is at a barbecue wearing shorts, a mobster told the actor such attire was unsuitable for a don. Later on in the series, this inaccuracy was brought up with another don chastising Tony for wearing shorts.