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The Sopranos: The Final Season

After more than eight years and six seasons, the saga of the New Jersey crime family will come to a close after nine more episodes.
Mervyn Rothstein
From the Print Edition:
Sopranos, Mar/Apr 2007

(continued from page 6)

The nearly nine years since filming began "is a long time in this business to be employed and to be financially taken care of. It's usually a month-to-month kind of thing. I was recently at the funeral for Peter Boyle of 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' and the whole cast was there, and I said to Brad Garrett," who played Raymond's brother, "that we're going through what you guys have just gone through. Very few actors have lived with a cast for nine or ten years. We've been through college graduations, kindergarten graduations, marriages, divorces, affairs, births, deaths. We've buried people's mothers and fathers. It's been a big family."

Bracco was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. Her father worked in the Fulton Fish Market. It may seem hard to believe, but when she was 12, her schoolmates on the bus voted her the ugliest girl in sixth grade. It was an unwanted distinction that affected her strongly and, in a way, marked her for life. "I was very hurt," she once told The New York Times. "I remember crawling into my father's lap and crying, saying I don't ever want to go to school again. But my father said the magic words: 'You're the most beautiful girl in the world to me,' and then gave me a pat on the shoulder and said, 'You'll be in school tomorrow at 9.' "

Her father was right. The ugliest girl in class became, before long, a fashion model. Starting in her teen years, she spent a decade working in Paris. "People just kept pushing me, saying I could model," she told the Times. Her English teacher, Mr. Horowitz, took her into Manhattan to meet with Wilhelmina, head of a major modeling agency that still bears her name, "and she took me right then and there."

Moving from modeling to acting, though, was not easy. "It took what seemed a lifetime," she said. "I made a movie in France, and I hated it. I was bored by the whole process. It only became interesting after I met Harvey Keitel and returned here. Harvey taught me what an actor does, how it works. I sat in the Actors Studio behind him for a year and a half, two years, until I said, 'I think I can do that.' "

How did she wind up with a wine to call her own? "Many actresses are asked to make licensing deals for hair, makeup or perfume products," she says. "I was also asked, and I was very flattered, but I felt it wasn't me. I'm not one to tell somebody that if you use this cream you're not going to look like you're 50. I just can't do that." But wines are different. "I had lived in France for 10 years. If you live in France, eating and drinking are a big part of your culture, so I learned a lot about drinking wines. I visited Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne country. I was incredibly lucky to drink some of the greatest wines ever made. So when my business manager asked if I wanted to import a line of wines, it seemed a really good fit for me, even though I had never done anything like it before."

Bracco has also never before had to face a future without "The Sopranos." But, she says, despite the pending loss of her HBO family, she is excited about the future. "I'm 52," she says, "and I still feel like I'm eight. So life is good."

When it comes to the women of "The Sopranos," some viewers still harbor a wish for the return of Adriana, Christopher's fiancée, who was, for all intents and purposes, knocked off two seasons ago, in the middle of a bare and desolate wood—though we never saw her body. Well, viewers, according to David Chase, you should abandon all hope.

"Honest to God, she will never come back," Chase told his question-and-answer audience emphatically. "She's dead." He does, however, regret her passing. "She really added something" to the show, he said. Drea de Matteo, who played her, "was really good, very different from every other woman you see on television. That was a loss. We didn't want to do it. But we had to."

And where is that body we never did see? "Rotting in a coal mine in Pennsylvania," Chase announced. At least, "we decided that's probably what happened."

Last season, homosexuality became a major theme, with the outing, ousting and offing of Tony's mob aide Vito Spatafore. Was the decision to focus on a gay Mafioso based on all the recent newspaper headlines about the battle over gay marriage? Well, actually, Chase said, the idea came from the actor, Joe Gannascoli, who played Spatafore. "He came to us with a book about a gay wiseguy in Brooklyn," Chase said. "He's the only actor who ever suggested a story line."


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