There’s Talk Of A “Sopranos” Prequel Series, And A New Book Gets Into James Gandolfini’s Time On The Show

October 21, 2021 / Posted by:

2021 is the year we reached peak Sopranos nostalgia. First, there was the prequel film The Many Saint of Newark, and now series creator David Chase has hinted that there may be a sequel to the prequel movie, set after the events of the film (the 60s and 70s) and before the timeline of the 1998 TV show. Now Ann Sarnoff, the CEO of Warner Bros, tells Deadline that they’re in talks with David about “a new series, Sopranos related, on HBO Max.” But apparently, it’s still up in the air whether the project would be a film or TV show. In the past, David has said he’d do a prequel if he and Sopranos writer/executive producer Terrence Winter could write the script together. So we shall see!

In other Sopranos news, there’s a new book called TinderBox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, and it gets into how James Gandolfini became Tony Soprano. Author James Andrew Miller writes that James struggled with the role, often taking showers after a day of shooting because playing Tony felt “dirty.” And when he was asked to film a scene where he jerks off, he threw a “tantrum.” I guess it’s a helluva lot cooler to get your rocks off onscreen with one of your “whoo-ahs,” than by your own hand.

via excerpts in Vulture:

Gandolfini, who once remarked that after a day of shooting, he often had to take a shower because he felt “dirty” playing the role, would sometimes balk at a particular scene and instead of asking Chase, “Do I have to do this?” he would wonder out loud, “What the fuck is this?” and then declare flatly, “I’m not doing it.”

James reportedly threw his “longest and strongest tantrum” when the writers wrote a scene that had him masturbating in a gas station bathroom. This would’ve been in the sixth season when Tony had an “affair” (errr, kinda) with Julianna Skiff, played by Julianna Margulies. Eventually, James agreed to do it, and, after all that, it ended up being cut from the final episode.

James tried to negotiate a new contract for himself in 2003. His old contract wasn’t even up, so HBO didn’t have to re-negotiate, but they did anyway. After a three-month-long “stubborn standoff” between James and the network, they finally reached a deal. The author of the book surmises that one of the reasons James had remained so tough in contract negotiations is that he’d realized Tony Soprano’s struggles amplified his own issues:

So there was a part of Gandolfini that wanted to leave the show because he understood, as he told a friend, that in order to “become” Tony, he had to connect with his darkest side. In essence, the cost of him playing Tony went beyond just being an actor. He lamented several times, “You don’t understand what this is doing to me.”

James had suffered from alcohol and drug abuse, and things got worse when he got really famous. He’d arrive late for shoots or fail to show up at all. One day filming was delayed while a search party was sent out to find him, and they tracked him down in a Brooklyn nail salon. Another time he was supposed to present at the 2005 Golden Globes but went missing. They found him making snow angels on the lawn outside the Beverly Hilton, where the ceremony was taking place. He was too wasted to notice there was no snow. Michael Imperioli quietly took over presenting duties, and James later gifted his co-star the $25,000 Golden Globes goody bag that he’d got as a presenter.

Apparently the Sopranos crew and James’ friends and family tried holding an intervention for him in 2003. HBO CEO Chris Albrecht held it at his apartment in Manhattan, and there was a private plane standing by to take him to rehab. They held two rehearsals in preparation:

As it turned out, none of that preparation proved helpful. The entire intervention lasted ten seconds. Gandolfini walked into the apartment, saw everyone, sized up the situation in a snap, and immediately barked, “Oh, fuck this. Fuck all of you.” Glowering at Albrecht, Gandolfini dared him with “Fire me,” then stormed out. While the others sat stunned, one of Gandolfini’s sisters chased her brother down the hall and begged him to come back.

But Jimmy was having none of that.

Sigh. On a positive note, at least the intervention didn’t turn out as disastrously as Christopher Moltisanti’s:

Pic: YouTube

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