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How The Sopranos Used CGI To Film Scene With Dead Cast Member

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There’s little disagreement that The Sopranos might just be the greatest TV series of all time. At the very least, it is the best that HBO has ever produced. And one of the characters that stood out above the rest was Livia Soprano. After all, she was the focal person for Tony Soprano in his life, as well as therapy. She was a part of the show for two whole seasons and one small scene in season three. But, she had actually passed away on 18th June 2000, right after season two’s production finished. Then, how did we get to see her in the third season of the show?

How the show used CGI to film Nancy Marchand’s final scene

Producers had acknowledged that Livia Soprano was going to play a major role in season three of the show. She was set to testify against Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) on the stand for the stolen airline tickets. However, fate had something else planned.

On June the 18th, 2000, right after the production of season two ended, Nancy Marchand, the actress who played Livia, passed away after her long battle against lung cancer and emphysema. However, as the saying goes, the show must go on. And The Sopranos moved on too, by killing off Livia in her sleep in episode two of season three. But, before that, the showrunners made a controversial move. They used CGI to shoot Nancy Marchand’s final scene! Here, take a look:

How The Sopranos Used CGI To Film Scene With Dead Cast Member
HBO ©

They CGI’d Marchand’s head on some other actress while reacting to Tony’s questions in a very weird way. Afterward, the show established that Livia passed away in her sleep. And this got a mixed reception from the fans of The Sopranos, as they could have easily done so without CGI in the break between season two and three. Using CGI for dead actors is never received positively by fans. For instance, Star Wars fans felt quite weird when they saw a CGI Wilhuf Tarkin in Rogue One. Take a look at the complete scene for yourself:

Afterward, The Sopranos conducted a hilarious funeral reception for Livia. And not only did it make the audience laugh, but the cast members of the show shared a giggle too on the set. In fact, it was their funniest day at work on set.

There was no character like Livia Soprano

How The Sopranos Used CGI To Film Scene With Dead Cast Member
HBO ©

It’s an established fact that there are few characters on television like Livia Soprano. The infamous Tony Soprano’s mother is the reason why we had one of the most complex protagonists on television. Moreover, the way The Sopranos explored her relationship with Tony through the therapy sessions was an immense move. It gave The Sopranos the extra dimension that every single show has lacked ever since. And to top it off, Nancy Marchand’s performance was breathtaking. The bitterness she brought to the character was something no one else could have pulled off.

What makes Livia infinitely more interesting is that she was a real person! She was the real-life mother of the very creator of the show, David Chase. In fact, the very reason he made the show was that his wife urged him to make a movie on his mother. And folks, that is how we got to The Sopranos. What do you guys think about her final CGI scene? Let us know in the comments section.

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