(Editor‘s Note: The following story contains major spoilers for “The Sopranos.”)
Michael Imperioli is opening up about the most “difficult” scenes to film for “The Sopranos.”
Imperioli starred as Christopher Moltisanti in the acclaimed HBO series. His character was murdered by Tony (James Gandolfini) in the final season, but Imperioli does not count his onscreen death as the most “brutal” sequence to film.
“That wasn’t really brutal at all, I’ll be honest with you,” Imperioli told The Guardian. “When we shot it, it wasn’t my last day either because we shot out of sequence. The most brutal, difficult stuff for me is when Christopher had to be physically abusive with Adriana (Drea de Matteo), for obvious reasons.”
He continued, “On a technical level, you’re trying to be really careful so you don’t hurt the person. But having to get to that point of violence towards a woman, you have to go to some nasty places to get there. Sometimes it’s very immediate. Sometimes it’s something present in your life that you can tap into. Sometimes you have to go someplace from the past. And sometimes you have to go to someplace imaginary. It’s much easier shooting a mobster or shooting heroin. That stuff to me is not difficult. But that stuff with her was. Sometimes you’ll use stunt doubles, sometimes not. And even then, it’s one thing to choreograph and rehearse it, then when you act it full-tilt with all the emotion, it’s easy to not have as much control as in the rehearsal. So you really have to be quite careful.”
The “Talking Sopranos” podcast host is set to reunite with “The Sopranos” creator David Chase to co-write an upcoming feature film, which Imperioli described as a “mystery project.”
As for the on-set dynamic between Imperioli and co-star de Matteo amid the intense domestic violence sequences, the actress previously told Vulture that Imperioli had a “difficult time” playing one half of a toxic couple.
“He had a hard time with a lot of the violence that season,” de Matteo said in 2021. “One time he had to grab me by my hair and drag me across the room using a harness. But the harness broke. I was sitting on the floor and crying, because I’m in the moment, and finally told him, ‘I’m not going to sit here and wait. You’re dragging me by my hair and you’re going to be okay with it.’ He said, ‘I can’t do that.’ And I said, ‘Yes, you can.’ And we did it. So for the confession scene, I told him, ‘I don’t want to do more than one take so you need to not be careful. I’ll kick you in the nuts as a signal if you need to get off me.’ And he was like, ‘I can’t.’ And I said, ‘Then don’t, fine.’ The punch is a fake. But you can’t fake choking because they have a camera right on your face. So when he started choking me, I pushed my neck up into his hands as hard as I could to choke myself, so that my eyes would pop and my face would swell. It’s pretty good! The 50-year-old version of myself might not do that. But I loved that scene. It was like a cleansing because she finally just gets to say what she needed to say for so long.”
She added, “Michael and I definitely hung out a lot. I always say that everything I learned about acting was from working so closely with him. When I came on, he was the easiest, most generous actor and so patient with me about hitting marks and all kinds of things not part of my repertoire. So I felt safe with him and was able to explore and become an actor. I mean, I remember in season one, David Chase came over to me at craft services and goes, ‘You know, people in the editing room think you and Michael are really a couple.’ But we barely knew each other at that point! I said that maybe it’s because we both have enormous eyebrows.”