Three questions and answers in UK Guardian article “James Gandolfini remembered by The Sopranos creator David Chase” are fascinating to read. Gandolfini’s appearance on the TV show Inside the Actors Studio was very insightful and is embedded in this article.
Here is an excerpt of the three Q&As via Guardian,
“Guardian: On Inside the Actors Studio, he gave a great anecdote about how he felt he bungled his first audition for The Sopranos. How much of that was true?
David Chase: He didn’t bungle it. But what happened was really very funny to me. In the middle of this audition he says: “This is shit. I gotta stop.” And he left the room, went down the street and disappeared. And so another audition was set up for four days hence. Then we heard someone in his family had died – when, in fact, no one had died. Finally, he came to my house, in my garage, and auditioned there. It went on tape, he did great – like we knew he would – and after I got to know him, I realised this was standard operating procedure for him. He approached things very warily. He would say he wanted to do something and then you’d see him start to rethink. And that’s the way it went down: he wanted to back out and, as frustrating as it was, I didn’t really get angry because I knew he would come round.”
“Guardian: When and why did you decide that he was Tony Soprano, and no one else?
Chase: There weren’t many other candidates. We read a lot of people but in television you have to do that: troop in 10 people so the network doesn’t feel they’re having it pushed down their throat and then, eventually, after wasting all that time, convincing them to go with the one you wanted anyway.”
“Guardian: How much of him was in Tony Soprano? Did he ever help shape the writing of his character?
Chase: He didn’t shape the storyline and he didn’t shape the writing, but he taught me a hugely important lesson about the character on the first day of shooting. It was written in the script that Christopher was supposed to tell him that he had written a screenplay and he was sending it to his cousin in Hollywood. And it said in the screenplay that I had written: “Tony, I’m going to send this to my cousin in Hollywood.'” And Tony says, “What’s the matter with you?” and slaps him across the face. When we staged the scene, Michael Imperioli – who plays Christopher – was drinking a beer and what Jim did was lift him out of his chair by his collar and slam him against a wall. Instead of slapping him lightly across the face, saying “are you out of your fucking mind?” – it was the same dialogue, but he delivered it with eight times the intensity. What I remember most is the beer bottle, rolling across the concrete, and thought to myself: “Yep. That’s great. Yep, that’s right. Let’s really go for this. This guy is the part.””