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'Sopranos' Creator David Chase Discusses the Unknown Facts of the Show and Its Infamously Ambiguous Finale

By Ziyad Saadi | Indiewire May 2, 2014 at 10:22AM

There isn't a "Sopranos" fan alive who wouldn't kill to know how the series actually ended. With a cut to black that caused half the show's viewers to assume they'd experienced a power outage, the final episode gave us what is arguably the most notoriously ambiguous ending of any television program in history.
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'The Sopranos'
'The Sopranos'

Nancy Marchand was eerily similar to Chase's own mother. "We probably read 100, 150 women and they all did this crazy Italian mama thing, one stereotype or another. And [Marchand] came up the stairs to the casting office, she could hardly breathe 'cause she was ill then. And I thought, 'This lady, oh I know, she was in The Naked Gun.' And she just did it. And you know, this was based on my mother. It was so close. Honest to God, it was spooky. And when my cousins saw it, they said, 'David, my God, who's that lady? That's Aunt Marma!' And I said, 'I know.'"

Lots of bullshit sessions. In regards to the writing process, Chase explained, "You say 'alright, well I got to do a story about Tony.' And you go 'Yeah so what happens?' And pretty soon you get off that, and just start bullshitting about what happened that morning and [writer Terence Winter] would talk about his uncle, and it just goes on like that all day long. Just a long bullshit session, day after day after day. And then somebody will say something and go 'Oh, that might be good in the episode!'

Hardest character to kill. "I'll tell you who had the hardest, it was the guy who played, in the first season, Mikey Palmice. He really did plead for his life. More than once. 'Isn't there some way...?' I said 'Al, we can't. That's not the way it goes.' And then we had the read-through, and so people were sitting down for the read-through and all the actors were getting ready, and he walks in and Tony Sirico is sitting there at the table and he goes [mimics gun noises]. He was trying not to cry."

The effect of 9/11 on the show. "It was really pretty peculiar because our room looked out on Manhattan. We had these big windows and every time something went on out there everybody would freeze and look out the window. And I remember there was some kind of an accident on the Queensboro Bridge and all this smoke, and everybody's like 'Oh my God!' And then there was also the power plant blowup on 14th street. It had had a great deal of effect and a lot of people -- I've read, I forget who it was, when the show went off the air, was talking about 'The Sopranos' and doing this overview and said 'there was this, there was that, and then...something in Chase's mind went dark.' Well yeah, it was 9/11."

How the ending came to be. Upon the first mention of the series finale, Chase gave some insight into his thought process, informing the audience "well, [media executive] Chris Albrecht said 'You should think about how much longer you want to do this show and we should have an ending.' That was about two or three years before. I mean, obviously [the finale] has echoes of the ending of the first season when they were all sitting in the restaurant. Other than that, I can't really say where the idea...it's just an idea..." With the audience still unsatisfied, he elaborated that "I wanted to create a suspenseful sequence. I didn't want people to be reading into it like 'The Da Vinci Code.' It wasn't meant to confound anybody. It was meant to make you feel, not to make you think, but to make you feel."

Possibility of a "Sopranos" movie. "A lot of people have talked to me about it. I still, frankly, flirt with the idea sometimes. If I had a really great way to do it, I would do maybe like a prequel."

This article is related to: The Sopranos, David Chase, Museum of the Moving Image, Television







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