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  • Acting for Two: Dan Grimaldi played twin brothers Philly and Patsy Parisi note .
  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • Joseph R. Gannascoli came up with the idea of Vito being a gay mobster after reading about a member of the Gambino crime family who was gay and allowed to live for the sake of being a good earner.
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    • Joe Pantoliano ordered and designed Ralph's wig himself. He based it on Christopher Nolan (whom he worked with on Memento. "I always loved Chris Nolan's hair."
  • Actor-Shared Background:
    • Tony Sirico really did have mob connections at one time. This is referenced in the show when he mentions his association with the Gambinos during the 70s.
    • Tony Soprano cites at several times over the course of the series his grandfather's having been a stone mason; James Gandolfini's father was a bricklayer.
  • Billing Displacement: Although Lorraine Bracco received second billing in the opening credits, she has a smaller part and appeared in fewer episodes than Edie Falco, who received third billing. Especially noticeable given her role would decrease in size as the show went on while Falco remained the second largest part throughout.
  • Cast the Expert: Dan Castleman, who spent thirty years in the Manhattan District Attorney's office, as chief of the Rackets Bureau and then of Investigations, acted as a prosecutor in nine episodes, and as a Technical Consultant in ten. Reportedly, in his career, when he was not endorsed by his boss to succeed him as Manhattan's next D.A., he left to become a private security consultant.
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
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    • Ray Liotta was in consideration for the roles of Tony Soprano and Ralph Cifaretto, but turned them both down. He will appear in the prequel film The Many Saints of Newark.
    • The three finalists for Tony Soprano were Gandolfini, Steven Van Zandt (Silvio), and Michael Rispoli (Jackie Aprile Sr.) - Rispoli was also the first to read for the part. Obviously, the latter two still made it into the show; Van Zandt conceived and pitched the character of Silvio Dante himself, while David Chase adjusted the role of Jackie Aprile, Sr., originally a much older character, to fit Rispoli's age.
    • Lorraine Bracco was originally asked to play the role of Carmela Soprano, but she felt that the part was too similar to her character in Goodfellas. She decided the role of Dr. Melfi would be more challenging.
    • Max Casella (Benny Fazio) originally auditioned for the parts of Matt Bevilaqua and Jackie Aprile, Jr. Both characters only lasted one season, but Benny remained until the final episode.
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    • Tony Sirico and Frank Vincent auditioned for the role of Uncle Junior. Sirico was offered the role of Paulie instead. Vincent joined the cast as Phil in the fifth season.
    • Steve Schirripa (Bobby Bacala) originally auditioned for the role of FBI agent Skip Lipari.
    • Annabella Sciorra auditioned for Janice Soprano. She was later cast as Gloria Trillo.
    • Christian Maelen was Chase's second choice to play Christopher Moltisanti. He provided the voice of Big Pussy's son, Joey LaRocca, in The Sopranos: Road to Respect.
  • The Cast Showoff: In "Army of One", Junior sings the Italian sentimental ballad "Core 'ngrato" at a Mob gathering at Vesuvio, putting on a beautiful performance. Dominic Chianese is an accomplished tenor, and "Core 'ngrato" is part of his regular repertoire. Amusingly, in-universe, the adult characters enjoy Junior's performance, but the kids are bored out of their minds; Meadow even starts heckling, and later describes the song as saccharine and cliche.
    • In "Denial, Anger, Acceptance", Meadow is performing in a recital with her chorus group. Jamie Lynn-Sigler is an accomplished singer and broadway performer.
  • Channel Hop: The show was originally going to be a cable series on Fox starring Anthony LaPaglia before HBO picked it up.
  • The Character Died With Her: Livia Soprano died after actress Nancy Marchand's death. Bizarrely, though, they filmed one last scene with Livia after her Marchard's death, using a Fake Shemp with her head added with CGI, and playing lines she had previously recorded.
  • Character-Specific Pages:
  • Creator Backlash: David Chase once admitted that though it worked dramatically, he considered the storyline of Tony and Carmela's separation not believable, because mobsters and their wives usually don't get divorced.
  • Creator Couple: Silvio's wife Gabriella was played by Steven Van Zandt's real life wife Maureen.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: David Chase named "College" as his favourite episode due to its focused plot.
  • Creator's Favorite:
    • David Chase has stated that some of his favorite characters include Christopher and Junior, mainly due to their self-pity, arrogance, and selfishness.
    • Michael Imperioli's favourite character is Junior, while Steve Schirripa's is Paulie.
  • The Danza: JT Dolan, played by Tim Daly. Doesn't seem like it at first, but when you realise that Daly's full name is James Timothy Daly or JT Daly...
  • Darkhorse Casting: Steven Van Zandt was a guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band who had never acted before. David Chase was impressed with his humorous appearance and presence after seeing him induct The Rascals into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, and invited him to audition.
  • Dawson Casting: According to Michael Imperioli, Christopher is 25 at the start of the series, though he was 35 at the time.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Steve Buscemi, who played Tony Blundetto, directed 4 episodes of the series, including "Pine Barrens".
  • Distanced from Current Events: After 9/11, the original title sequence was re-edited to remove the shot of the Twin Towers from Tony's sideview mirror.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: James Gandolfini had to put on the 35 pounds he lost for The Mexican, because it was decided that audiences wouldn't accept a thin Tony.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • In "Pie-O-My", Ralphie's crew look genuinely surprised - Ralph's hair almost takes off - when Vito breaks a chair and falls like an elephant. In fact the whole moment looks like a borderline Throw It In, comically incorporated later into the script.
    • While filming the scene in "Pine Barrens" where Tony picks Bobby up at Junior's house and reacts to seeing Bobby in his hunting outfit, Steve Schirripa surprised Gandolfini by entering the kitchen wearing a strap-on dildo. Tony's response and laughter, pointing at Bobby and then doubling over the sink, is the take of Gandolfini seeing the strap-on.
  • Executive Meddling: Shockingly, the series nearly underwent this in its first season when David Chase had to fight for the network to let him have Tony murder someone because the execs were unsure that the audience would still sympathize with Tony after such an act. Chase prevailed and the execs never messed with the show again.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • A somewhat subverted example with Furio. The character is clearly from Italy but is played by Federico Castelluco, who is not from the old country but he is an Italian-American from New Jersey.
    • Neither of the actors who play the Soprano children are of Italian descent. Jamie-Lynn Sigler is half Cuban and half Sephardic Jewish, while Robert Iler is Irish-American.
  • Flagship Franchise: The series is often seen as the show that launched the new Golden Age of adult television in The Oughties and The New '10s, inspiring The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad (by rival networks), becoming an era defining milestone series, famous for its morally compromised protagonists, violence, and occasionally surreal style that came to define this period.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • This show opened the door for a lot of shows that tried to show "gritty" depictions of crime families. Most of those shows only copied the shocking violence, and not the great dialogue, wicked sense of humor, complex themes, and excellent acting that made this show a success, which is why they're all gone. The show itself isn't subtle in its attempts to pick up where Goodfellas left off in its demythologizing of the Mafia. A truly impressive amount of the cast of this show had parts of varying significance in that film. In case it wasn't obvious enough, their first choice to play Tony Soprano was Ray Liotta.
    • An in-universe Real Life emulation. Jackie Jr. learns that Tony and co. had their major breakthrough in the criminal world when they robbed a poker game organized by a big shot mobster, so Jackie decides to follow the example. It ends badly, a made-man is injured, while the card dealer is killed, and Jackie gets whacked for it.
  • Hostility on the Set:
    • Although both were crucial characters and presence of the show, it was widely rumored that Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco did not get along. This apparently stemmed from the belief that Bracco was jealous of the Falco's larger screentime and attention, despite her being James Gandolfini's onscreen wife.
    • Dane Curley (Justin Cifaretto) revealed on Reddit that Joe Pantoliano only found out that his character would be killed off at a read-through and he took the news badly:
    Joe Pantoliano, who portrayed my character's father Ralph Cifaretto, found out his character was being killed off the show in real time during the table read for our episode. Yeah, he wasn't happy! As soon as he realized he was getting whacked (maybe by reading a few pages ahead of where we were), he angrily shouted (at no one in particular, but presumably the writers) and stood up from the session. His phone went up to his ear so fast to call his agent, and he stormed off. As he did this, Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) yelled back some choice words to him: something like, "Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!" The ruthlessness of showbusiness. Got to see the reality of this business well before my 14th birthday."
  • Method Acting: It is said that during some scenes, James Gandolfini inserted a small stone in his shoe to anger him, making him play the role of Tony Soprano more authentically. To get himself into Tony's rage-induced mindset, he would also punch Tony's SUV between takes (at one point leaving a dent). He would also stay awake all night for some of the breakfast scenes, to achieve a tired look.
  • Mid-Development Genre Shift: The series started as a movie pitch. David Chase initially wanted his creation to be a movie, and the original scripts that he wrote were for a feature-length production about a mobster who went to visit a psychiatrist. These themes were eventually carried over into the show, of course, mainly because Chase's manager believed that the characters were so well-written that they deserved the extensive time that they would be granted in a television series. Humorously enough, a very tonally different movie with that exact premise came out a month before the series premiered.
  • Network to the Rescue: After several networks passed on it, HBO took a chance on a script about a middle-aged guy, his dysfunctional wife, his dysfunctional business partners, his shrink, and his homicidal mother.
  • The Other Marty: Fairuza Balk originally played the FBI Agent Deborah Ciccerone in "Army of One", and the initial broadcast kept her scenes. However, as she could not reprise the role for the character's later planned appearances (due to scheduling conflicts), her scenes were quickly reshot with a replacement actress, Lola Glaudini. The reruns of the episode and the DVD release use the replacement scenes to keep continuity with the character's later role.
  • The Other Darrin: The show recast a number of minor characters, particularly after the first few episodes:
    • The husband of Liliana, the Polish maid, was recast.
    • Pussy's wife Angie Bonpensiero is portrayed by an uncredited actress in two episodes before being replaced by Toni Kalem for all subsequent appearances.
    • Tony's "other" sister Barbara is played by Nicole Burdette from seasons 1-3 and Danielle De Vecchio in seasons 5 and 6.
    • Father Phil is played by another actor in the pilot before being recast as Paul Schulze.
    • FBI Agent Deborah Ciccerone was originally played by Fairuza Balk in "Army of One," but after Balk declined to return for the fourth season, she was recast with Lola Glaudini. Balk's scenes in "Army of One" were re-shot for reruns and DVD releases.
    • Joanne Moltisanti, Christopher's mother, was portrayed by Nancy Cassaro in one episode and Marianne Leone Cooper in all the rest.
  • Playing Against Type: Robert Patrick, famous for playing the T-1000 and various badass police/military roles, plays Davey Scatino, a weasely, pathetic Gambling Addict who has his life utterly destroyed by his addiction and the mob.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Many prominent New Jerseyans receive cameos, often as themselves; these include Jon Bon Jovi, Lawrence Taylor (of the New York Giants), and Eric Mangini (of the New York Jets).
  • Real-Life Relative: The prequel Many Saints of Newark features James Gandolfini's son Michael as a young Tony.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Paulie's imprisonment during the first half of Season 4 was because Tony Sirico was recovering from back surgery and unable to shoot.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Woke Up This Morning (Chosen One Mix)" by Alabama 3. A Thematic Theme Tune almost expository. Lyrics. Initially, David Chase wanted a different opening music for every episode, but the final theme changed his mind.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • Many actors in the show were arrested during the show's run. Their real crimes were not that serious though, certainly not on the level of their characters.
    • Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) was allegedly a member of the Colombo crime family in The '70s and was convicted of robbery and weapon possession.
    • Lillo Brancato (Matthew Bevilacqua in the 2nd series) was charged with murdering a cop in 2005, and although he was acquitted of that, was still sentenced to ten years imprisonment on a related burglary charge.
    • Tony Darrow (Larry Boy Barese) was an associate of the Gambino crime family and had been convicted of beating an extortion victim.
    • In a non-criminal case, Steven van Zandt (Silvio Dante) took heavy inspiration for his performance from his long friendship and partnership with Bruce Springsteen, acting as a loyal right hand man to a powerful figure, which often involved breaking bad news and trying to keep his temper down.
  • Recast as a Regular: Joseph R. Gannascoli was originally cast in a season one cameo as Gino, a customer in the the bakery where Christopher shoots a teenage counter boy in the foot. He was then re-cast as Vito Spatafore in season two, and continued in that role until the end of season six, part 1.
  • Refitted for Sequel: At one point, David Chase apparently considered a storyline revealing that Big Pussy had an illegitimate son, who would have joined the Soprano crew in an attempt to redeem his family name. When this story didn't make it into the show proper, it became the basis of the officially licensed video game The Sopranos: Road to Respect.
  • Schedule Slip: The first three seasons arrived one per year three years in a row, but things changed dramatically after this:
    • Season four was released about a year and half after season three which was the earliest example of the fans being annoyed with David Chase's slow plotting pace. Surprise, surprise when season five was released a year and a half later. David Chase not being one to settling for that decided he needed nearly two years to plot the sixth and final season. When the damn thing finally premiered it was announced that nine more episodes were added and fans almost had a heart attack when the season actually premiered only ten months later. Say what you will about the controversial ending, most people who had been following the show from day one were probably just relieved it had ended at all.
  • Shrug of God: Creator David Chase infamously refused to explain the ending for years afterwards, saying, "Anyone who wants to watch it, it's all there." Then, during an interview in 2020, Chase referred to the final scene as "the death scene." When an interviewer called his attention to that word choice, Chase responded, "Fuck you guys." He was forced to clarify that Tony could have been killed, but not necessarily. It's up to personal audience interpretation.
  • Star-Making Role: For James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Tony Sirico, Steven Van Zandt (as an actor) and Drea de Matteo.
  • Throw It In: Tony putting his hands on a turned-on stove at Ralph's house was an actual accident and his reaction is genuine.
  • Wag the Director:
    • Tony Sirico has a criminal history and he signed on to play Paulie Walnuts so long as his character did not become a "rat".
    • Whenever a cast member would go to David Chase to complain about their character, arguing the character would never do this or that thing, it has been reported multiple times that Chase would respond: "Who told you it is your character?"
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Tony was originally named Tommy.
    • In an interview, Chase revealed that if he hadn't gotten the show's pilot episode greenlit, he was determined to shoot another hour of material and release it as a movie, ending with the scene where Tony panics trying to kill his mother with a pillow.
    • Tony Blundetto was originally meant to last two seasons, but the writers wound up writing themselves into a corner by having him kill Billy Leotardo. Believing there was no other possible conclusion to his story than death, the writers changed plans and had him bite the bullet after one season.
    • Originally Big Pussy wasn't going to reappear in the second season. Originally he was just going to disappear, and the question of what happened to him, and if he had even been an informant, would have been left a mystery. Chase eventually broke down and brought him back, but he resented the pressure to provide answers and intentionally left some things unanswered in later seasons (such as the fates of the Russian in "Pine Barrens" and Furio.)
    • Chase originally wanted Anne Bancroft to play Livia Soprano.
    • Marcia Gay Harden was considered for Janice Soprano.
    • Casting directors Georgianne Walken and Sheila Jaffe have stated that Jerry Stiller was first offered the role of Hesh, but he turned it down because it conflicted with a commercial he booked.
    • Mike Nichols was originally offered the role of Dr. Krakower. He turned it down, saying, "I'm the wrong Jew. You need a whole other kind of Jew for this doctor. I’m miscast, forgive me".
    • Livia was originally going to die of natural causes at the end of the first season, before Tony is able to smother her with the pillow, until Nancy Marchand talked the writers out of it.
    • Similarly, Season 3 would have been centered around Tony's efforts to prevent Livia from testifying against him over the airline tickets. Marchand's death between seasons necessitated a reworking, resulting in Livia's death and the (re)introduction of Janice, Ralphie, and Gloria to fill the void.
    • Annabella Sciorra has said that between Seasons 3 & 4, David Chase tried to contact her about joining the series as a regular. Unfortunately, she was on vacation at the time, and by the time she got back to him, he'd changed his mind. What further plans Chase may have had for Gloria remain unknown.
    • "Christopher" was originally written with Paulie as the one defensive of Columbus Day. Due to Tony Sirico's unavailability (see Real Life Writes the Plot), Paulie's role was given to Silvio, explaining why the latter is arguably out of character in that episode.
    • Chase revealed in 2021 that his original choice for the song in the iconic final scene was “Love and Happiness.” He also revealed that he imagined an alternative version of the final scene, which would have bookended the famous opening title sequence by having Tony drive from New Jersey to New York before his implied offscreen death.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Sopranos Wiki.
  • Word of God: On the future of the Soprano children, David Chase said:
    A.J.'s not going to be citizen-soldier or join the Peace Corps or try to help the world; he'll probably be some low-level movie producer. But he's not going to be a killer like his father, is he? Meadow may not be a pediatrician or even a lawyer, but she's not going to be a housewife like her mother. She'll learn to operate in the world in ways Carmela never did[...]Tiny, little bits of progress—that's how it works.
  • Word of Saint Paul: The series infamously ended with a Smash to Black, leading many people to believe that it represented Tony being killed in the last scene. There's a suspicious looking guy going to the bathroom, making some people believe he was the killer. According to his actor, Matt Servitto, the guy in the bathroom most likely was going to approach Tony. He still isn't sure if he killed him or just talked to him or something.
  • Working Title: HBO was worried that the title of the series would make the audience think it was about music, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler, a trained singer, even admitted later that she went to the audition on this assumption. That is why the gun is used for the "R" in the title logo. The network also considered other titles for the show, such as Made in New Jersey or The Family Man.
  • Write Who You Know:
    • David Chase claims the relationship between Tony and his mother Livia was based on his relationship with his own mother, Norma.
    • Chase's inspiration for Dr. Melfi came from his own psychiatrist at the time, Dr. Lorraine Kaufman, and eventually contributed to the psychological development of some of the characters.
  • Written by Cast Member: Michael Imperioli is the only major cast member whose credits also include writing or co-writing for the series, having worked on five episodes. Appearing in a recurring role, Toni Kalem, as Angie Bompensiero, also wrote one script and served as story editor on five episodes.

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