The Sopranos creator, David Chase, revealed that the writers’ room often borrowed from the lives of the actors in crafting the mobster drama. Starring the late James Gandolfini, The Sopranos is widely considered to be one of the greatest television shows of all time. The HBO series first aired in 1999 and follows Tony Soprano as he juggles his personal life with his involvement in organized crime.
Chase provided insight into The Sopranos’ inspiration while promoting The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel film to the beloved television series. Helmed by frequent Sopranos director Alan Taylor and written by Chase and Lawrence Konner, the film will explore the origins of Tony Soprano as he comes of age in tumultuous 1960s and ‘70s Newark. Michael Gandolfini, James’s son, will star as a young Tony.
Chase appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote his new project, Uproxx reported. There, he indulged the talk show host with anecdotes from the Sopranos set. He explained how Gandolfini used to call the writers “vampires” due to their predilection for sucking up inspirational factoids from the actors’ tough guy backgrounds. He specifically name checked Tony Sirico’s checkered past. Check out his quote below:
“He called all the writers ‘vampires,’ because we would steal from the actors’ real lives. We never stole anything from him, but we stole a lot from Tony Sirico.”
Tony Sirico, who plays Paulie Walnuts, is known for his mob movie resume as well as his considerable rap sheet. Prior to starting his acting career, Sirico worked for the Colombo crime family, during which time he was arrested 28 times for disorderly conduct, arrest, and robbery. It’s no shock, then, that the Sopranos writers drew inspiration from the charismatic actor. It seems that they borrowed the Colombo family’s real-life boss’ name—Carmine “Junior” Persico—to create the fictional names of The Sopranos’ bosses Carmine Lupertazzi and Junior Soprano. Sirico isn’t the only Sopranos actor to have a background in organized crime; Tony Darrow, who previously appeared in Goodfellas, was affiliated with the Gambino crime family.
The Many Saints of Newark introduces an entirely new cast to the Sopranos story, including Ray Liotta, Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, and Jon Bernthal. This means there’s a host of new actors to mine inspiration from, if David Chase chooses to do so. Whether or not the writers room employed the same “vampire” strategy, however, remains to be seen. Audiences can look forward to watching the gangster film when it premieres on HBO on October 1.