Drea de Matteo got her big break playing Adriana La Cerva in HBO’s The Sopranos (although I would come to know her first as Wendy Case on Sons of Anarchy). While discussing her new Sopranos rewatch podcast “Made Women” (co-hosted with Chris Kushner) for TV Insider, she talked about her surprise about that infamous finale.
“I remember that night vividly,” de Matteo shared. “I had a ‘Sopranos’ party at the house and we’re watching what happens in the end. And I was like, ‘Wait a second. What just fucking happened?’ I thought my TV glitched out because we were watching it on a big, giant, old television.”
As someone who is currently watching The Sopranos for the first time, one of the things I’ve already come in knowing is that infamous last shot. Spoiler Alert: the series ends with Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) in a restaurant booth with his wife Camilla (Edie Falco) and son AJ (Robert Iler) as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” plays. It fades to black as his daughter, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), is implied to be coming in, with the Journey song being cut off at “don’t stop—” and leaving the audience unclear as to the final fate of Tony. It’s notorious for being unsatisfying to those who watched it happen live.
De Matteo continued, “Then I called my girlfriend who was still working on the show. She goes, ‘No, Drea. That’s the ending.’ And I’m standing there and I look at everybody and they’re all cursing. […] I think the point is that you just fell for what happened. Or I don’t know, maybe everything the show has been saying for six seasons just goes to black and it’s all meaningless. The show was meaningless. Tony Soprano’s life was meaningless.”
Since that time, series creator David Chase has spoken at length about the final scene, all the layers of tension that it created and what that final black shot is supposed to mean:
I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure. But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That’s what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it’s all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we’re so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it’s really worth it. So don’t stop believing.
Chase has called it a “death scene” and while the ultimate fate of our protagonist is unclear, there is no doubt that it is a jarring moment. Even just rewatching the scene above, knowing how it goes, there is still this instinct of “no, there has to be more.” But that is what makes the show so compelling and worth checking out, even if you already know how it goes.
Also “Made Women” has been a fun listen as I watch the series. It’s still only on season one, but it’s a fun listen regardless.
(via IndieWire, image: HBO)
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