Family: they're the only ones you can depend on.
"I don't care how close you are. In the end, your friends are going to let you down. Family: they're the only ones you can depend on." - Tony Soprano
Enjoy these awesome facts about the legendary show, The Sopranos.
The writers carefully researched the ways in which mobsters controlled and laundered their money in order to make Tony Soprano as realistic as possible. They even employed New York assistant D.A. Dan Castleman to advise them on this issue. When Castleman was asked how much they had decided Tony should be worth, he stated that it was roughly five or six million dollars – an amount that fluctuated, of course, because of Tony’s substantial gambling problem.
HBO was worried that viewers would think that the show was about opera singers. This is the reason that they decided to change the “r” to a weapon in the title logo.
Many authentic New Jersey businesses are featured in the show, including a pizza joint called Pizza Land that has now become famous. In one episode, an actual sporting goods store in New Jersey called “Ramesey Outdoor in Paramus”, was depicted as going out of business. Many people became concerned that the store was actually closing in real life, so the store had to release advertisements that announced that they were still, in fact, open.
Director David Chase revealed that if the pilot of The Sopranos hadn’t been green-lighted, he would have shot an extra hour of material and released a film instead. At the end of this hypothetical film, Tony Soprano panics while trying to kill his mother with a pillow.
Oogatz, an expression used in throughout the show, means zero or nothing. It comes from the Italian un cazzo, which means a dck. “The Stugots”, the name of Tony’s boat, comes from “questo cazzo”, Italian for “this dck”.
In 1999, federal investigators were secretly taping conversations within the DeCavalcantes family, a real-life mafia family in northern New Jersey. In one conversation, the family discusses how similar they are to the fictional DiMeo/Soprano family in the series.
One NJ mobster asked, “Is this supposed to be us?”
According to James Gandolfini, real-life mafia members would contact him, complimenting him on the authenticity of the series. They would sometimes even offer him their advice.
Tony Sirico agreed to sign onto the show on the condition that his character, Pauli Walnuts Gualtieri was not a rat, or an informant. Before filming the show, Sirico was a mobster and had been arrested twenty-eight times.
Drea de Matteo (Adriana) had to spend four hours in hair and makeup before each episode. In the scenes where any of her limbs were exposed, she had to spend even more time in the makeup chair to cover up all of her tattoos.
Originally, creator David Chase wanted the show to open with a different song every time. However, HBO said that the show had to be identified by its theme song, so Chase chose Woke Up This Morning by Alabama 3. However, he compromised by ending each show with a different song.
In the second season, the f word is said a total of 715 times. Tony (264), Sil (34), Paulie (31), Christopher (68), Carmela (9), Others (309).
Ray Liotta was the top choice to play Tony Soprano. However, he turned it down because he said he didn’t want to commit to a television series.
David Chase had only one rule when filming the scenes with Dr. Melfi: do not move the camera.
According to producer Terence Winter, Steve Buscemi had originally signed up for two seasons. However, David Chase thought that his character’s story only needed to be told in one.
Drea de Matteo was unaware that her character, Adriana, was going to be killed off the show until she read the script before the episode shooting. Though she left the show earlier than she and the audience expected, de Matteo’s performance in her final season earned her an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
When the pilot episode was released, a real-life mafioso contacted James Gandolfini and told him to never wear shorts again. This encounter seems to be incorporated into the first episode of the fourth season when Carmine tells Tony that he heard about his recent backyard party and that a don doesn’t wear shorts.
The only actors on the show who do not have Italian heritage are Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Robert Iler, David Proval, Nancy Marchand, and Jerry Adler.
Lorraine Bracco was originally asked to play the role of Carmela Soprano. However, she thought the character was too similar to her character in Goodfellas (1990) and wouldnt be challenging enough for her, so she decided for the role of Dr. Melfi.
When Jamie Lynn-Sigler (Meadow Soprano) was auditioning for the show, she had no idea what was about. From the name of the show, she thought it was about opera singers.
In seasons 2 and 3, Steve Schirripa had to wear a fat suit in order to play Bobby Bacala.
The large mugshot in the Bada Bing! club office is of Frank Sinatra at the age of 23. In 1938, Sinatra was charged with the seduction of a married woman.
Michael Rispoli originally auditioned for the role of Tony. David Chase liked Rispoli’s audition so much that he adjusted the role of Jackie Aprile Sr., originally a much older character, to fit Rispoli’s age.
David Chase had planned a major storyline for the third season concerning Tony’s efforts to prevent Livia from testifying against him in court. However, Nancy Marchand‘s death caused Chase to revise a large portion of the season.
Corrado Soprano’s nickname, Junior, was taken from the actual nickname used by Tony Sirico when he was a mobster as a young man before he became an actor.
David Chase was a longtime fan of Steven Van Zandt‘s music and had always wanted to write a role for him. When Chase saw Van Zandt induct The Rascals into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he invited him to audition for Tony Soprano, even though he had never acted before. Van Zandt did not want to take a role away from a real actor, so Chase wrote the role of Silvio Dante for him. The Rascals‘ performance footage ended up being featured in 1999’s seventh episode, The Sopranos: Down Neck (1999).
To settle salary disputes after Season Four, James Gandolfini gave each cast member $33,333 from his own pay.
The character “A.J. Soprano” was ranked #10 in TV Guide’s list of “TV’s 10 Biggest Brats” (27 March 2005 issue).
In every episode he appears in, J.T. Dolan is beaten up by Chris Moltisanti until Moltisanti finally kills him in Season 6.
Drea de Matteo‘s unnamed “hostess” character appears in the pilot, in a quick restaurant scene. In the very next episode of the series she appears as Adriana La Cerva, Chris Moltisanti’s girlfriend. Later she is Artie Bucco’s hostess.
James Gandolfini is the only cast member to appear in every episode.
Unlike most TV shows, there was no improvisation on set. The scripts were followed verbatim, and any possible change was discussed with executive producer David Chase first.
Tony refers to Christopher as his “nephew” throughout the series. However, Christopher is Carmela’s cousin, so he and Tony are actually cousins by marriage.
Originally, creator David Chase was going to call the key character Tommy Soprano. He later changed it to Tony.
The “Bada Bing” club is actually a go-go bar in Lodi, NJ, called Satin Dolls. It used to be a nightclub called Tara’s. Before that, it was the diner Hearth 17.
David Chase claims the relationship between Tony and his mother Livia is based on his relationship with his own mother, Norma. Livia is also the name of the Roman emperor Augustus’ conniving, murderous wife.
In Season 4, Christopher said Tony was going to die of a heart attack by age 50 due to his weight. In real life, James Gandolfini actually died of a heart attack at age 51 in Rome, Italy.
Five regular Sopranos cast members appeared in Goodfellas (1990). Ten recurring cast members and eleven one-time guest stars also appeared in the film. In contrast, Dominic Chianese is the only major Sopranos cast member who also appeared in one of the “Godfather” movies, as Johnny Ola in The Godfather: Part II (1974).
In Season 5 a story about Feech La Manna was told, concerning his killing of a New Jersey longshoreman for refusing to give up his favorite seat in a bar. This story was based on a true-life incident involving former Philadelphia/Atlantic City crime boss Nicodemo Scarfo (aka “Little Nicky”).
When Steven Van Zandt landed the role of Silvio, his character’s suits were made by real-life underworld figure John Gotti’s tailor. Gotti was serving a life sentence at the time.
The opening credits of the first three seasons are notable for one significant difference from the rest of the seasons’ sequences: there is a shot in which the World Trade Center is visible in Tony Soprano’s rear-view mirror which was, for obvious reasons, removed after 9/11.
The series actually started as a movie pitch. David Chase initially wanted his creation to be a film, 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 serial.
Asked what he thought of the series, Martin Scorsese admitted that he watched a few episodes but couldn’t get into the show, claiming that it was a different generation’s gangster culture than what he remembered.
In January 2000 the Coalition of Italian-American Associations issued a joint statement condemning the show for perpetuating negative Italian-American stereotypes.
David Chase is known for keeping tight control on the set of The Sopranos. Whenever an actor would go to him to complain about his/her 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?’
During several episodes, a high-pitched squealing sound can be heard in some outdoor scenes. That is the sound of the elevated #7 train going around a turn one block from the studio where the indoor and some outdoor scenes are filmed in Queens, New York.