The new book, Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of The Sopranos, is an immersive dive into all things Sopranos, the hit television series created by David Chase that ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007.
The book is co-authored by Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa who respectively played fan-favorites Christopher Moltisanti and Robert “Bobby Bacala” Baccalieri Jr. on the show. The series is enjoying a newfound popularity thanks to streaming, and the prequel film The Many Saints of Newark.
Imperioli tells ABC Audio that, for Chase, it was important to get things right from the start and that meant not dumbing anything down.
"[David] said...people actually talk the way they do in life, you know because people never say what they mean," he notes. "David wanted to make something where people relate to each other the way they do in life which was not done much on television up until then."
"There’s also magic you like, you can out together the best cast with a great script, and a great director and it just doesn’t pop...But sometimes, you just get the ingredients...and that’s what happened with The Sopranos.
Schirripa offers this little tidbit about casting one of the show's more popular characters.
"Jerry Stiller got the role of Hesh... I love Jerry Stiller, But I couldn’t imagine anyone doing 'Hesh' but Jerry Adler," he admits.
Additionally, Frank Vincent read for the role of “Uncle Junior" and Steven Van Zandt almost became “Tony Soprano."
Of course, the role of Tony went to James Gandolfini, who Schirripa says became a powerful presence on the set by "[setting] an example on set so no one got out of line."