The Sopranos Made A Clever Break From Convention When It Came To Casting Their Female Leads

Lorraine Bracco’s casting was unexpected for everyone but her. She had earned an Academy Award nomination for playing Karen Hill, a mob wife, in Martin Scorsese’s modern classic “Goodfellas.” With “The Sopranos,” she wanted to continue to challenge herself as an actress. She told Vanity Fair:

“After doing ‘GoodFellas,’ I was offered every Mafia gal, girl, wife, mistress, daughter available. And I said to them, ‘No, I don’t want to do that. I did it. Can’t do it better.’ I called up my agent the day before I’m going in to meet David, and I go,’I don’t want Carmela — I want Dr. Melfi.'”

Chase agreed that Bracco as Carmela “wasn’t really incredible creative casting,” the actress recalled to Huffington Post. With his first choice for Carmela cast in a different role, this left Chase clear to make another unconventional choice in casting Edie Falco.

Although Falco didn’t see the role coming, she still felt a deep connection to her character. “Carmela was very easy to be. I immediately knew how she felt about things, the way she wanted to look,” the actress explained to Vanity Fair. She inevitably gave life to a character she never imagined anyone would see in her — a huge testament to her talents as a performer.

Carmela didn’t want Tony in danger, but the blood money supported her lifestyle. Melfi had good intentions but could never get close enough to help him. They were both his lifeline to humanity and sources of conflict, two sides of the same coin. With that in mind, it’s incredible to imagine their casting swapped. Bracco and Falco both have Dr. Melfi and Carmela well within their range, but it was much more interesting to see them embody characters they didn’t normally play.

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