The Sopranos — which turns 20 on Jan. 10 — is a show about murderous psychopathic criminals. Every single one of the show's 86 episodes contains numerous instances of abhorrent antisocial behavior. But what were the worst of the worst moments? What were the things that forced even the people making the show to say, "That's pretty effed up?"
TV Guide asked members of the cast those very questions in New York on Wednesday night, just before a 20th anniversary celebration of The Sopranos' premiere, presented by HBO and IFC Center's Split Screens Festival. This is what they said.
"The first shot on the first day on the pilot, Vinny [Pastore] and I threw a guy off a bridge," says Jerry Adler, who played loan shark and Soprano family friend Hesh Rabkin. (They actually only threatened to throw a guy off a bridge. The guy getting thrown off the bridge happened later.)
Lorraine Bracco's biggest regret for Dr. Jennifer Melfi is telling Dr. Elliott Kupferberg (Peter Bogdanovich) that Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) was her patient. "He ratted me out, that f---," Bracco jokes. "I needed a different therapist. I love Peter, but he screwed me. That is not what a therapist should do. Just saying."
Christopher Moltisanti — an endlessly selfish, abusive screw-up — murdered numerous people and did a nearly uncountable number of horrible things to pretty much everyone he ever met, but no one says anything to Michael Imperioli about all that. "People never really say 'that was really horrible that you killed that guy,' but he did sit on a dog," Imperioli says. "That people really drew a line with." (Christopher killing Adriana's [Drea de Matteo] dog upset Tony more than anything pretty much anything else Christopher ever did, too. Tony had little regard for human life, but he loved animals.)
Little-known fact about Cosette the smushed lapdog: "They made the tongue out of prosciutto," according to Imperioli. ("Prosciutto," remember, is pronounced "pruhzhoot.") The prop guy made a fake dead dog with a charcuterie tongue. "No animals were hurt in the making of The Sopranos," Imperioli promises.
"Obviously killing Adriana would be everyone's vote on that," says Steven Van Zandt of the worst thing Tony's right-hand man, Silvio Dante, ever did. The execution of Adriana La Cerva after she revealed she had been forced to become an FBI informant was maybe the worst thing anyone did on the entire show and was definitely the most painful to watch. "And just to show you how crazy the world is, after [the episode "Long Term Parking" came out], two out of three people who came up to me were like 'good work, I'm glad you got rid of that rat,'" Van Zandt says. "And I'm like 'what's a matter with you? Are you out of your mind?'"
Johnny Sack is guilty of indecorum, as the worst thing that he did was that he did was take a meeting with Tony Soprano while he was sitting on the toilet, Vince Curatola jokes. "When I read that part of my script I became unruly," he says. No, the actual worst thing the Brooklyn boss did was beat up a Sopranos associate on misplaced suspicion of making fun of his wife's weight. "That was pretty brutal," Curatola says. Disrespectful, too.
Even Artie's wife, Charmaine Bucco, possibly the most morally upstanding character on the whole show, did something kinda uncool. "The worst thing I ever did is when I confessed to Edie [Falco] that I slept with Tony," Kathrine Narducci says. "I think that was pretty sh---y of me. It was mean." The way she did it was just petty, you know?
Not everyone agrees with the premise of the question. Tony Sirico, a god-level ball-buster, doesn't think Paulie Walnuts did enough. The worst thing Tony's loyal soldier did was "put up with a lot more bulls--- than he should have," Sirico says. I was thinking he'd say "murder his elderly mother's friend because she caught him robbing her," but nope!
The Sopranos is available to stream on Amazon Prime.