I live out in Jersey, and I’ve seen the way people respond to you, because you guys are all from the New Jersey/New York region, and are telling a regional story. I mean, does it feel differently in that way to you? Is the reaction you get different here than, say, L.A.?
Michael Imperioli They get excited, but they also feel like there’s not such a big distance, like if Tom Cruise was walking down the street. They tend to feel much more approachability toward us.
James Gandolfini Yeah, fortunately, or unfortunately, they recognize us in their lives, I think. They’re just like, ”Tony, hey!” and it’s like saying hello to someone you kinda know.
Edie Falco And it’s weird because you don’t know, you think: Did I meet that person and I just don’t remember? Is that a relative of mine? So everything starts to blur.
JG Almost everyone I meet is very nice, although I do say that the people that don’t like you aren’t gonna come up and say hello. But the ones that you do meet are very respectful and nice and very rarely are they annoying or disrespectful or any of that. I don’t see that very often at all, which I’m very happy about. It gives me faith in human nature.
Some of you all have been involved in some very tough scenes. I know that obviously goes with the territory, but Lorraine, I can’t imagine, for instance, that that made your rape scene any easier. When you have a scene like that, or Michael, when you were choking Adrianna, or Jim, some of the things you’ve done on screen, how do you steel yourself before filming, and then how are you able to continually bring that same energy or emotion for take after take after take?
MI You commit yourself, I guess, that’s it.
JG In many ways, you commit yourself.
Lorraine Bracco And then they all come to Dr. Melfi!
Writer Terry Winters says before each season he goes back and watches every single episode, while David [Chase] on the other hand says he never goes back and watches the old shows. What about you all?
MI I don’t watch ‘em.
JG After the year and a half break and I had done a couple of shows, and I pulled out some episodes, and I said: What? Is this right? Is this the same fucking guy? Occasionally, I’ll look at something from the back to remind me, but not much.
EF No. I see them when they’re on. I see them when they air and that’s it.
LB I happen to like the Sunday night. I like the Monday-morning watercooler talk.
Do you each individually have a favorite episode or performance you look back on?
MI One of the best things I ever saw was ”White Caps.” The arguments between you two guys [points to Gandolfini and Falco] at the end of the fourth season.
JG The divorce, you mean?
MI Yeah, and the scenes were really, really long. You know how arguments between people, they go and go and then they come down awhile and then they flare up again? That’s was some of the best executed stuff I’d seen in anything. Acting, writing wise, direction. I couldn’t believe it.
David and I talked a lot about the Italian groups that have spoken out against your show and complained about you guys marching in parades, and?
LB Oh, f— them! Give me a f—ing break!
JG There you have it.
Lorraine Bracco, ladies and gentleman! But David had an interesting point. His point was instead of being so upset about you guys depicting this stuff, that they should instead ask themselves why people have such an appetite for it. What do you think? What is it about the Italian crime story, as opposed to the Russian one, for instance, that is so mesmerizing for people?
MI They have really good senses of humor, they really do.
LB They eat well.
MI It’s part of the culture. It’s a cultural thing. Russians are very serious people. I’m sure it would be interesting, but I don’t know how funny it would be. They’re colorful characters. People like the sense of family that they bring.
LB Art, food, culture — there’s a lot of stuff there.
JG There have been Italian comedians, Italian music. It’s not just crime stories. It’s some kind of expressiveness that Italians have. I don’t think it’s just the crime stories, I mean, they add another element, which is probably interesting.
LB I think people like the whole underground thing.
EF The stuff that it deals with — loyalty, family, greed, and passion. And it does have a lot to do with food, caloric intake, just Italian personalities.