Lorraine Bracco's Dr. Jennifer Melfi was the thoughtful, measured counterpoint to her mobster patient Tony Soprano, but "The Sopranos" creator David Chase originally wanted Bracco to play a much different part, she told HuffPost Live.
In a conversation with host Ricky Camilleri on Monday, the actress said Chase originally reached out to her to play Tony's wife, Carmela, a part that ended up going to Edie Falco. But Bracco wasn't interested because she'd already played a memorable mob wife in Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas." She explained:
I fell in love with David [Chase] the minute I met him, when I walked into the room. I said, "I like this guy." And I said, "Look, I don't think I should play Carmela because I did it, I did it in a Scorsese movie, I got an Oscar nomination. I really don't think I'm going to bring so much to this for you that I haven't done already." I said, "But I really love this script, and I want to play Melfi." ... And he agreed with me that I'd done it already and it wasn't really incredible creative casting for him. He said, "You want to play Melfi?" And I said, "Yeah, I want to play Melfi." So I left on that, and he gave it to me.
Bracco also spoke about her relationship with James Gandolfini, who died at the age of 51, six years after "The Sopranos" aired its finale. She said losing Gandolfini and both her parents acted as a wake-up call in her own life, prompting her to write a new book, To the Fullest. Bracco described Gandolfini as "loving, caring, sweet, funny, a jokester" and a true friend.
"It was devastating -- young man, talented, the peak of his career, the peak of his life with a beautiful wife and baby and children and [his son] Michael," Bracco said. "It was really shocking to me."
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CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misquoted Lorraine Bracco as referring to her character "Dr. Jennifer Melfi" as "Mefli." A change has been made.