Chris Rock turned down chances to guest star on ‘The Sopranos’
The Sopranos made stars out of several actors, putting them all on a trajectory to success. Moreover, at the peak of its popularity, there were several actors who were dying to make an appearance on the show. But, not every actor shared the same enthusiasm. And one of them was Chris Rock. Rock was offered a chance to guest star in the show on multiple occasions, but he turned all of them down.
Rock was an absolute superstar for HBO in the 90s, with three comedy specials between 1994 and 1999. He ultimately launched his own “The Chris Rock” show in 1997, a talk show which lasted for 55 episodes across five seasons. During that time, The Sopranos debuted on HBO and became a massive hit, ultimately changing television forever. At the time, expecting a crossover between the two shows was not an idea unheard of. And that offer was on Rock’s table, but he turned it down – not once, but multiple times. While talking to The Hollywood Reporter, the comedian recalled:
I thought he wanted me to host his wife’s charity event or something. [Fargo] is a big job. And sometimes you can respect something so much, you don’t even want to be a part of it. Years ago, when I had my own show on HBO, it was at the height of The Sopranos, and I got a couple of offers to be on The Sopranos, and I was like, ‘I like it too much, I don’t want to spoil it.’
Chris Rock chose to appear in Fargo instead of The Sopranos
However, Chris Rock did not shy away from an opportunity to appear in Fargo. When Noah Hawley approached him, Rock immediately agreed to whatever role Hawley offered him. And it was partly because Rock was a huge fan of the show and Haeley’s own work. He said:
But I was such a fan [of Fargo], I took the meeting anyway, and then he presents me with this offer, and I’m like, ‘Whatever you want me to do, I’m down.’ Because I saw how he handled Bokeem Woodbine [who played Mike Milligan].
Rock was quite impressed by how exceptionally Hawley handled Woodbine’s character, Mike Milligan. And that compelled him to take part in the show’s fourth season. Rock continued:
Sometimes people do amazing work and then when they handle Black people, it’s horrible. But with [Hawley], I saw how he handled Bokeem and I was like, ‘I can totally be in your hands’. Once you see that, you go, ‘OK, this guy [Hawley] has no problem putting himself in that character’s shoes.’ I write, right? So, when you hand a studio a script, what you notice a lot of times is everyone gives you notes of the character they most identify with…Now the problem is that some people have a hard time imagining they’re Black, so there’s no notes on the lead if he’s Black. Or if the lead girl is Black, there are no notes from the white women. Because they couldn’t step into it. But Noah had no problem being Bokeem, and that’s why it’s written so well.
Even though Chris Rock never featured on The Sopranos, he believes his character crime lord Loy Cannon as similar to Tony Soprano. He described Cannon as:
He’s a businessman, he’s a deacon at his church, he’s a loving father and husband, he owns a bank, and he’s also a criminal. He fixes fights and runs numbers and prostitution. He’s always on edge. It’s Tony Soprano-esque.