The Sopranos: The hardest scene to shoot for Michael Imperioli was not the one you think

The Sopranos: The hardest scene to shoot for Michael Imperioli was not the one you think

“It’s easier to film mafia crimes or heroin shots than that,” admits the interpreter of Christopher Moltisanti, who remembers having had a lot of trouble with the violence of his character towards his girlfriend Adriana (Drea by Matteo).

Sixteen years after the end of Soprano, David Chase’s cult series regularly returns to the headlines. This week, it’s via an interview at Guardian that one of its leading actors, Michael Imperiolimakes some revelations. Beware of spoilers : his remarks return to the whole plot.

The Sopranos, 10 years later: why the final still divides so much

Asked about the end of his character, the interpreter of Christopher Moltisanti explains that it was not so complicated for him to play this shock scene during which he is killed by Tony (James Gandolfini).

“No, it wasn’t brutal at all, he considers. I tell you in all honesty. When we filmed that, it wasn’t my last day at all, since we were shooting the scenes out of order. No, for me, the most brutal, the hardest things to shoot is when Christopher was physically violent towards Andrea (Drea de Matteo). You can easily guess why.”

“Already, from a technical point of view, you are very careful not to hurt the person in front of you, he continues. But to commit such violence against a woman, you have to draw from within you particularly dark things. Sometimes it comes all of a sudden, it clicks with an element of your own life and you can use that. But at other times, you have to play with your imagination. It’s easier to film mafia or heroin sequences than that. For me, this kind of stuff was not complicated. But the violence that I had to go out with her, it was really hard. Sometimes we had understudy, sometimes not. And even when we were doubled… It’s one thing to choreograph a scene, to prepare it, then it’s another thing to perform it, to let go of all these emotions. One can easily get out of control with repetitions. So you had to be very careful on these types of scenes.

In 2021, de Matteo had already mentioned the complicated filming of these scenes of domestic violence for the last season of Soprano.

“Michael struggled with all sequences, confided the actress. Once he had to grab me by the hair and pull me across the room. We had a harness to shoot this, but it broke. I must have been on the ground crying, I was in the scene and I ended up saying to him: ‘I’m not going to sit here waiting forever. Grab me by the hair and we’ll spin, you’ll get there.’ He replied that he couldn’t do that. I insisted : ‘Whether you can.’, and we shot.

For the scene of my confession, I had said to him: ‘We’re gonna do it in one take, so you can go. I’ll kick you in the nuts if you have to let me go, that’ll be the signal.’ Rebelote, he replies: ‘I can not do that.’ I told him : ‘Okay, then don’t.’ The hit he gives me on the screen is wrong. However, you cannot pretend to be strangled, since the camera is glued to your face. When he started to run his hands around my neck, I squeezed myself closer, choking myself as hard as I could. Until my eyes popped out and I started sweating. It’s convincing! At 50, I couldn’t do that anymore, but I loved shooting that scene. It was liberating, because Adriana was finally telling him everything that had been on her heart for all these years.

Michael and I spent a lot of time together on the show. I always say that all I learned as an actor was working so closely with him. When I arrived on this show, he was the most welcoming, the most generous and the most patient of the actors. He helped me stick to my marks, do all sorts of things that weren’t in my repertoire. I always felt safe and it allowed me to explore my playground, to really become an actress. During the making of Season 1, David Chase came to me and said: ‘You know the people in the editing room think you’re really in a relationship with Michael!’, when we barely knew each other. I replied with a laugh that it was probably because we both had huge eyebrows.”

The beautiful tribute of the creator of the Sopranos to Tony Sirico

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