Why Michael Imperioli Wasn’t Sure The Sopranos Would Be A Hit
And boy was he wrong.
It’s very interesting to see what cast members and producers thought of The Sopranos before its success. Famous actors like Jerry Stiller even passed on the opportunity to work on the show. That shows he didn’t believe in it much. Similarly, Michael Imperioli shared his thoughts about what he thought of the show when he read the script. And it just wasn’t as optimistic as you’d think.
Imperioli thought The Sopranos wouldn’t be such a success
In the Talking Sopranos podcast, Michael Imperioli is opening up about the infamous show with his co-host and fellow cast member Steve Schirripa. First, he admitted that he left a Woodie Allen film for the show, even though it was his dream to work with him. But, he did so because he really liked his character, Christopher Moltisanti.
However, it doesn’t mean he thought The Sopranos was going to be a success, let alone the greatest show of all time. Imperioli opened up about this in the 10th episode of the podcast, he admitted he didn’t have high hopes for it:
I didn’t really have high hopes for it. I read the script and I liked it. But I couldn’t tell it was gonna be the greatest TV show ever. From the script, it was hard to tell.
Now, it’s important to know that TV dramas were nonexistent in 1997. It was an era dominated by sitcoms like FRIENDS and Seinfeld. It was almost inconceivable to imagine a show with a complex story arc, characters, and killing to such an extent. And that is what made Michael Imperioli and other cast members of The Sopranos unsure about the show:
There weren’t hit shows on cable. There was violence, there was profanity, there was n*dity … even after we did [the pilot], it was like, ‘Who’s gonna watch? Are people gonna watch this? Is there an audience for this on television?’ I didn’t really know.
But now, Michael Imperioli and everyone knows how good everything went with The Sopranos. In fact, it triggered a revolution!
The Sopranos revolution
Of course, Michael Imperioli didn’t just underestimate the success of The Sopranos. He also couldn’t see the revolution that it was going to bring on Television. Before The Sopranos, TV was considered a massive step down for actors, but then everything changed. After Tony Soprano’s introduction on TV, it inspired shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire, Mad Men, and basically every great show in the past two decades. That’s the kind of influence we’re talking about. Gigantic.