HBO's 'The Sopranos' 20th Anniversary Reunion
It has been 20 years since The Sopranos premiered, officially making HBO a prestige network and making it possible for television to be a prestige format.
The gripping drama centered on James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano -- a mob boss, living his life, surrounded by friends, family, and work "associates", paved the way for the wave of high-quality, serialized dramas we now enjoy.
Two decades since Dr. Melfi's first therapy session with Tony Soprano, Lorraine Bracco could not contain her excitement at reuniting with castmates.
“I’m so lucky! I’m so blessed! I want to take my camera out and take pictures!”
As Tony Soprano's protégé Christopher Moltisanti, Michael Imperioli and Gandolfini created unforgettable scenes together, and, although Gandolfini passed away in 2013, his memory loomed large over the event.
“It’s like being with your family, really. I love everybody here. It’s a bittersweet day because Jim’s not here, and we all miss him, and it’s not the same without him.
As Tony's wife, Carmella Soprano, Edie Falco inhabited a multi-faceted woman in a complicated situation -- ever-complicit, but always on a rollercoaster as she bounced between close and distant to her husband.
Bringing to life the full range of human emotions, from love, to hate, and everything in between, Falco understood, better than most, how humbly Gandolfini reflected on himself as an actor.
“I think what I loved most is he didn’t really know how good he was, like, he really kept feeling like someone was gonna find him out, and there was something so endearing about that.”
Widely considered the greatest show of all time by fans and critics alike, Falco explained how The Sopranos' meteoric success affected her.
“It was a show that reached a great many people. There was nothing quite as exciting as having that many people, first of all, see what you do, second of all, respond to it in such a big way. It’s thrilling.”
Tony Sirico, who played Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, described the series as something that could be watched forever.
“It’s just got a thing to it between all these characters [that] just made magic.”
Although nobody could have predicted the success of The Sopranos, its impact was even harder to understand for then-teenage actor Jamie Lynn Sigler.
As Tony's daughter, Meadow Soprano, Sigler grew up in tandem with her character.
“Now I’m at an age and at a point in my life that I can truly, actually appreciate what I was a part of.”
With the benefit of all she has learned as an actress in the years since, Sigler now recognizes just how special that first, big role was.
“I think that, no matter what happens, I got lightning in a bottle, and not many people get to say that.”
While mob movies have long been a staple of Hollywood, there had never been a long-form drama that developed the genre's characters before The Sopranos.
As Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero, Vincent Pastore was among the actors who benefitted from the untypical, expanded opportunity presented by The Sopranos as a multi-season series.
“You know, we all like doing character work, and grabbing a job here and there, and then ‘The Sopranos’ came along and then you’re set. You ride the ride.”
Now a pop-culture hallmark, it may be difficult to recognize just how unorthodox The Sopranos was when it premiered.
As Silvio Dante, Steven Van Zandt was there from the beginning, and put this feeling into perspective.
“It was such a crazy script, and, even after the pilot was shot, it was still crazy. It was like, ‘I’m enjoying this, but I don’t know if anybody else is, because it’s awful weird, man.’”
You can visit The Sopranos anytime on HBO GO, HBO Now, and HBO On Demand.
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