The Sopranos

Why Adriana’s Actress Plays A Different Character In The Sopranos’ Pilot

Drea de Matteo’s role as Adriana in The Sopranos is one of the show’s most memorable parts - but she started out playing someone completely different.

Drea de Matteo performance as Adriana La Cerva is one of the most memorable parts of The Sopranos – but in the pilot, she played someone completely different. Appearing in 47 episodes of the acclaimed HBO series, Adriana becomes an increasingly more important figure in the story, being central to some of the biggest arcs in The Sopranos. It’s strange to think that de Matteo started out playing someone completely different in The Sopranos, but the reason why is even stranger.

As de Matteo explains in an interview with Vanity Fair, instead of playing the girlfriend of Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos pilot, she actually played an unnamed restaurant hostess. de Matteo says that she initially tried out for the part of Christopher’s girlfriend in the pilot, to which series creator David Chase responded “You don’t look Italian. You look like a hostess of a restaurant.” While she is Italian, de Matteo took what she could get and played a hostess in the pilot. After the show was officially picked up, she was called to try out for the part of Adriana again. This time, de Matteo wore an over-the-top outfit and played up her accent, finally getting her cast as her most iconic character, Adriana La Cerva.

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Drea De Matteo Was Key To Adriana Working On The Sopranos

Adriana and Sylvio in The Sopranos

Drea de Matteo is the only one who could have made Adriana’s character in The Sopranos work, as her over-the-top performance is key to why audiences love her. From the way she dresses to the way she pronounces “Christopher,” Adriana instantly becomes a memorable character from the second she walks on camera. While The Sopranos is full of colorful characters, among all the mobsters and criminals, Adriana remains one of the most well-remembered thanks to de Matteo’s well-considered performance.

Drea de Matteo’s performance not only gives Adriana some of the strongest characterization in the show, but it also adds an emotional layer that wouldn’t have been there without her. Starting off, Adriana is a fairly one-dimensional character, acting as the object of desire for many of the men in The Sopranos. By the middle of the series, though, de Matteo transforms Adriana into one of the most tragic characters in the show. Unlike most of the mobsters in The Sopranos, Adriana doesn’t want to be a criminal. She really just wants to own her own club, a trait harking back to de Matteo’s appearance as a hostess in the pilot. Throughout her abusive relationship with Christopher, her time as a mole for the FBI, and her season 5 death, Adriana is one of the most beautifully performed characters – and it’s all thanks to Drea de Matteo.

What Drea De Matteo Has Done Since The Sopranos

The Sopranos: Adriana pointing at Tony Soprano

Since Adriana’s death in The Sopranos season 5, episode 12, “Long Term Parking,” Drea de Matteo has gone on to have a fairly successful film and television career. She had a major role in the 2005 remake of Assault on Precinct 13 and was also a recurring character on Sons of Anarchy. De Matteo has also appeared on shows like Desperate HousewivesAgents of SHIELD, and CSI: Miami, and is currently a main cast member on Amazon Prime’s Paradise City. While Drea de Matteo has made several big appearances since The Sopranos, she will always be best remembered as Adriana La Cerva.

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