The Sopranos creator and showrunner, David Chase, revealed that star, James Gandolfini, bestowed upon him, as well as on the writing team, during the show’s eight-year run. Premiering in 1999, and ending in 2007, the show followed New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, Tony Soprano, and the struggles he faces as he attempts to balance his family life with his role as the head of a burgeoning criminal organization, typically explored through Tony’s sessions with his therapist Jennifer Melfi. The Sopranos ran 6 seasons on HBO and is widely regarded as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, as well as one of the best written television shows ever made.
Late actor, James Gandolfini, starred in the lead role as Tony, whilst seasoned actors such as Lorraine Bracco and Dominic Chianese also appeared in major roles during the show’s run. Gandolfini had previously enjoyed acting credits in True Romance, The Mexican, and 1995 hit, Get Shorty. The Sopranos finale aired on June 10th 2007, and concluded with a highly controversial final scene that continues to generate speculation today. The show is credited for influencing many other mobster and gangster shows that have followed, and its largely unknown cast went on to enjoy successful careers after being cast. Whilst there have never been plans for a sequel, the eagerly anticipated prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark, following the teenage years of Tony Soprano, is set for release in the Fall.
As reported by Uproxx, Chase made a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live to speak about the upcoming Sopranos prequel, and revealed that Gandolfini had a nickname for him during production: Satan. Of course, it can be assumed that this nickname was meant with tongue firmly in cheek, but creators often clash with their stars during the production of successful shows. With a show so intricately plotted and impeccably written, it stands to reason that production would be an immersive experience.
It seems Gandolfini also had a morbid nickname for the writing team on the show too, as Chase revealed in the interview, saying, “He called all the writers ‘vampires,’ because we would steal from the actors’ real lives. We never stole anything from him, but we stole a lot from Tony Sirico.” Sirico, who was an ex-felon before turning to acting, had been arrested 28 times, and the writers on the show used many of these incidents to help shape the character of Paulie Gualtieri. Writers using real-life experiences to influence storylines and character traits is nothing unusual, and, in shows like The Sopranos, this approach most likely provides a wealth of opportunity. Indeed, Chase himself has also admitted to using real life people and situations as the basis for characters on the show, with Tony Soprano’s fraught relationship with his mother Livia based on Chase’s relationship with his own mother.
This relationship is explored further in Tony’s younger years, in the Sopranos prequel movie, which is set for release in October. The film, directed by Sopranos alumnus Alan Taylor, and co-written by Chase and Lawrence Konner will delve into Tony Soprano’s formative years as a teenager growing up in Newark, New Jersey, in the ’60s and ’70s, against a backdrop of racial tensions and violent gang wars. The movie will star James Gandolfini’s son Michael as the young Tony Soprano, and is highly anticipated by fans and critics of The Sopranos, who will no doubt be looking forward to more of Tony Soprano after a 14-year wait.