imkittymyers at hotmail dot com
Friday, March 03, 2006
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT ...
Oh, God, I'm already in mourning.
They come here to toast the dead. Ever since Big Pussy got clipped at the end of season two, the Sopranos cast has convened at Il Cortile [pictured below], a little joint in Little Italy, to bid a proper farewell to members of the family who’ve been snuffed out and tossed into the purgatory of auditions and callbacks. Whacking parties, they call them.
“Oh, man, it is a constant worry,” chimes in Tony Sirico, who in person comes off a lot like Paulie Walnuts: the sarcastic hostility, the slicked silver wings in his pomaded hair.
“The fact that you don’t know if you’re going to live or die creates an intensity that shows up in the work,” adds Steve Van Zandt, the guitarist of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band who plays Silvio Dante, Tony’s consigliere.
When I bring all this up a few days later with Chase, he tells me he’s aware of the irony: that the anxiety he creates in his actors bears more than a passing resemblance to the way Tony manages his workers. “If I call to thank them for a Christmas gift, I can hear it in their voice,” he says. “They’re thinking, Oh, no. What’s he calling for? Is this the end? ” To soften the blow, he’s devised a procedure to deal with the soon-to-be-deceased: He finds the actor at a script reading a month before the scene, calls him into his office, and breaks the news. Since the rest of the cast doesn’t get the script until a few days before shooting, the dead man walking must take a vow of silence.
“Hey, write this down,” Schirripa demands. “Contrary to what a lot of people believe, we are not gangsters. People come up to you and say, ‘Hey, my cousin Johnny is in the can. Don’t know if you know him—little Johnny from Avenue U?’ I’m like, How would I know him? I have a fucking college degree! I’m an actor!”
8 New York asked six different writers to "imagine a fitting conclusion," and they thought of plenty, from Meadow Soprano Must Die to Arrivederci, Mrs. Soprano, not to mention the ubiquitous dream sequence and Christopher Goes All Judas.
Which brings me to this question: How would you like the Sopranos to end?