Mr. Gandolfini and his imposing physical presence influenced Mr. Chase's understanding of the character from the very first days of filming. Mr. Chase recalled that in the pilot script, originally written in the late 1990's for the Fox network (one of the great misses in TV history), he had conceived a scene where Tony's nephew, Christopher, reveals that he is thinking of selling his story to Hollywood. In the script, Tony responded by cuffing Christopher behind the ear.Thanks to Alex Epstein for the link.
After HBO finally agreed to shoot the script, that moment remained in the pilot. When they got to the scene, Mr. Chase, who was directing, called "Action," and instead of that affectionate little cuff, he remembered: "Jim picks the guy up and just throws him. I can still see Michael Imperioli. He was just sitting there with a beer bottle in his hand and the next thing I know there's like this blur of movement and the beer bottle is rolling along the ground and Michael is up off his feet." Mr. Chase laughed, remembering the impression Mr. Gandolfini's move left on him. "Of course, this is how you lead people," he said.
That one gesture changed the show. "He was always going to be a tough, hard person for most people to love," Mr. Chase said. "But that is what a gangster is. "
Monday, February 27, 2006
With the final series of The Sopranos due to air in America next month, Bill Carter in The New York Times talks to creator David Chase and star actor, James Gandolfini.