With streaming numbers at an all-time high, the release of its prequel film The Many Saints of Newark starring Alessandro Nivola and Michael Gandolfini (son of James), as well as the announcement that more prequel content is on the way – it’s safe to say HBO’s The Sopranos is experiencing a very fruitful renaissance within pop culture. Naturally, it’s re-opened certain topics of discussion/debate, including the controversial finale, and as The Sopranos creator David Chase recently revealed, the existence of an alternate ending.
“I had a scene in which Tony comes back from a meeting in New York in his car,” David Chase tells The Hollywood Reporter.
“At the beginning of every show, he came from New York into New Jersey, and the last scene could be him coming from New Jersey back into New York for a meeting at which he was going to be killed.”
“I had this notion – I was driving on Ocean Park Boulevard near the airport and I saw a little restaurant. It was kind of like a shack that served breakfast. And for some reason, I thought, “Tony should get it in a place like that.” Why? I don’t know. That was, like, two years before.”
As expected, the conversation meandered towards the original ending; which cut to black right before audiences around the world received any sort of visual confirmation regarding Tony Soprano’s fate. And after years of copping it for the artistic choice, David Chase had a few things to get of his chest.
“I had no idea it would cause that much… I mean, I forget what was going on in Iraq or someplace; London had been bombed! Nobody was talking about that. They were talking about The Sopranos. It was kind of incredible to me. But I had no idea it would be that much of an uproar. And was it annoying? What was annoying was how many people wanted to see Tony killed. That bothered me.”
“They wanted to know that Tony was killed. They wanted to see him go face-down in linguini, you know? And I just thought, “God, you watched this guy for seven years and I know he’s a criminal. But don’t tell me you don’t love him in some way, don’t tell me you’re not on his side in some way. And now you want to see him killed? You want justice done? You’re a criminal after watching this shit for seven years.” That bothered me, yeah.”
The matter of whether Tony Soprano actually died, of course, had been settled years ago. Previously confirmed by Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall’s book The Sopranos Sessions, the following interview excerpt pretty much says it all:
Alan Sepinwall: When you said there was an endpoint, you don’t mean Tony at Holsten’s. You just meant, “I think I have two more years’ worth of stories left in me.”
David Chase: Yes, I think I had that death scene around two years before the end… Tony was going to get called to a meeting with Johnny Sack in Manhattan, and he was going to go back through the Lincoln Tunnel for this meeting, and it was going to go black there and you never saw him again as he was heading back, the theory being that something bad happens to him at the meeting. But we didn’t do that.
Matt Zoller Seitz: You realise, of course, that you just referred to that as a death scene.
[Long pause follows]
David Chase: Fuck you guys.
The Many Saints of Newark is scheduled to be released in Australian cinemas on November 4th (today).
Now that you’ve read about The Sopranos’ alternate ending, check out BH’s own interview with David Chase on the original series, The Many Saints of Newark, and re-defining television here.