By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
I’ve tried to answer that question for myself many times. As a matter of fact I was talking to Rudolph Giuliani, who grew up in Brooklyn, grew up among all this, and actually prosecuted any number of these guys, and he said just like in everything else in the world there‘s a spectrum: There are guys in the mob who are total stone humorless sociopaths, and there’s not really a candle going on in there, and there are people who are pretty much regular people except that they do this job. So I don‘t know if it’s a fairy tale or not.
Do you think of Tony Soprano as a good father?
[After a reflective pause] I think he‘s a loving father, I think he really loves his kids. I don’t think he does what‘s right by them very often. I mean, he gave his daughter a car he’d gotten as a result of a gambling debt. That‘s not a good idea, that’s not what a father should do. And sometimes when I think about that, I have to ask myself, he must have known what he was doing. Was he really trying to put her face in it? I don‘t know the answer. I mean, a good father would probably get out of that. Take them all to Utah and go into the program. I suppose. Right?
Unless your definition of being a good father is to provide material comfort.
Columbia University? [Meadow Soprano is a student there this season.] Not everybody has to go there. People don’t have to have widescreen TVs. Food on the table and clothing is good enough. That‘s what I mean. It’s a rationalization. And from what I understand, that‘s very often the rationalization for guys in organized crime: I’m doing it for my son and my daughter, I‘m doing it for the children. But Tony does it because he likes doing it, he loves being out there on his own and not having to answer to anybody.
Was there another future possible for him?
I think there was another future possible for him. That’s the first time I‘ve ever been asked that, and off the top of my head I’d say there was.
You‘ve often been asked about your mother, on whom you partly based Tony Soprano’s mother. What sort of relationship did you have with your father?
My dad kind of reminds me of Tony in some ways. My dad was a very generous guy. But he was an angry man, and could be very volcanic. Now, his brothers and sisters remember him as being funny. He was one of the only ones who went to college out of 10 kids. But he really cared about me, and he was, in a sense, an island of sanity in my house -- he knew that my mother was kind of out there, so if there was some issue, he would always say, like, ”Here, take the $50, go to the rock festival, keep your mouth shut about it and don‘t tell your mother.“ You know what I mean? But he was very angry about I don’t know what -- I guess his childhood. But he was a good guy after all.
What kind of father are you?
I think I care, I think I‘m a pretty committed father, but I also have probably acted out too much in front of my kid. Behaved like a baby.
When you look out the window, does the world seem to you a friendly or a frightening place?
I tell you, I go up and down, up and down, up and down all the time. I alternately become terrified and comforted, furious and then forgiving. But I guess this is what it’s like to be human. My wife says I don‘t have as much middle ground as other people. I’m much more in black and white. Good or evil, good or bad, funnynot funny, tastes goodtastes lousy, assholegreat guy.
Which is interesting, because The Sopranos is not at all black and white. It engages your sympathies in almost perverse ways and doesn‘t let you make up your mind about anybody.
I think that’s maybe because as a person I go from pillar to post so often, I‘m bouncing back from one to the other. My wife also tells me I have this very bad tendency toward historical revisionism. Something that I thought was disgusting, repulsive, a year later I’ll say, ”You know, it wasn‘t so bad.“ And she’ll say, ”I can‘t believe that -- do you know how much crap I had to hear from you about this, and now you’re telling me it wasn‘t so bad?“ I think that’s maybe the reason why it‘s in the middle, because I can never decide.
When you look at the rest of your career, what do you see or hope for yourself?
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