Talking with ''Sopranos'' creator David Chase -- The series creator spills some family secrets about episodes that never were, and says he's looking to Hitchcock for his next creative challenge
James Gandolfini

EW Everyone’s always talking about how great The Sopranos is, but do you ever look back at episodes and say, ”Man, I wish I had zigged instead of zagged here”?
DAVID CHASE I don’t watch old episodes. When we finish a season, that’s it. So I don’t treat myself to all that self-incrimination. But there are ones I do recall without even seeing them. Sometimes I think that the episode where they went to Italy could have been better.

EW How so?
DC The part that happened in the United States — Pussy killing that Elvis impersonator — was good. But the female Mob boss in Naples could have been written differently and she probably shouldn’t have been so glamorous. We should have had a better crime story for when they were over there. And maybe we should never have gone at all.

EW Why? Because they were out of their element?
DC I don’t know. I wrote the episode, and it wasn’t well written. I recall being on location, and we were trying to film some of the scenes and it was like, ”What is this about?” Some people liked it. I think [it] could have been better.

EW Tell me about any story lines you thought about at one time and then, for some reason, never put into action.
DC Well, The Sopranos, before it was called The Sopranos, was a movie idea. It was gonna be kind of a comedy. I pitched it to some agents and they turned it down. In the movie [version], by the time the hero finds out that the mother was the one who tried to kill him, he goes running over to the nursing home but she’s died from a stroke. So he’s cheated out of his confrontation with his mother. What happened here at the start of our second season is that Nancy Marchand was so good that we didn’t want to do that. But from a psychological and family-dynamic standpoint, obviously, that son and mother could never have anything to do with each other again. We had figured out a fairly realistic way where he was gonna need her testimony in court, and [we’d] have some sort of reconciliation so he could control what she said on the witness stand. But then Nancy died. What else? It’s fun to think about this. One time Carmela was going to park her car and realize that she was in front of the elder-care agency run by that Russian woman [Svetlana], and that Tony’s mistress [Svetlana’s cousin Irina] now worked there. So they were both up in the office, and Carmela was gonna go in there and wreak havoc with them. We never did that.

EW More. Give me more.
DC We thought about doing an entire episode that was one real therapy session — 50 minutes long — in real time. We wrote it, but we never did do it. Some of that’s been covered in other little therapy sessions. We also thought about a story where Tony finds out that his father spent some time in a mental institution [because he] was more tormented and schizoid than Tony may have thought. What happened was that some graduate students came and Janice was home, and they realized that their father had been part of a longitudinal study when he was in this mental institution. We still may do that. I don’t know.

James Gandolfini
The Sopranos
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