Stars of mafia series The Sopranos have revealed how journalists tried to infiltrate a Little Italy restaurant in a bid to uncover the show’s secrets.
HBO’s gangster drama ran for six series from 1999 to 2007 and is widely considered one of the greatest TV shows ever.
During its wildly successful run, fans were desperate to get any behind-the-scenes information on upcoming story lines – especially on any characters unfortunate enough to be “whacked”.
There were even suspicions of a “rat” on set who was giving away secrets.
And Sopranos star Michael Imperioli – co-host of the Talking Sopranos podcast – has revealed the cast had to “adjust” after the press got wind of one of the show’s traditions for seeing off departing actors.
He told the PA news agency: “We used to have a tradition where if you were going to get whacked off the show, we’d take you out to dinner.
“And we’d go to a restaurant in Little Italy on Mulberry Street called Il Cortile. And the press got wind of it. So they were really trying to find out and trying to get somebody maybe within the restaurant or the cast and see who they were taking out to dinner, who was being toasted, and then they’d figure out (who was leaving the show).
“So we had to adjust during that time.”
Imperioli – an Emmy winner for his portal of mafia “capo” Christopher Moltisanti – and his Sopranos co-star Steve Schirripa have used their popular podcast to relive the show, 13 years since it went off air.
The podcast is going through every one of the series’s 86 episodes, interviewing other members of the cast and giving fans a behind-the-curtain look at the beloved show.
Schirripa played Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri. Neither actor made it to The Sopranos’ final episode, though they were involved deep into the sixth and final season.
Imperioli was famously killed by mafia boss Tony Soprano – played by the late James Gandolfini – while Schirripa memorably got gunned down in a model train store.
Imperioli revealed he knew of his character’s fate “at least a year” before filming.
He said: “I thought it was a great way to end Christopher’s story, to die at the hands of Tony. I thought it was important for the story and there was no downside for me.”
Schirripa found out a month before that Bobby was to be killed, with Sopranos creator David Chase visiting him at home to deliver the news personally.
He said: “I opened the door and there was David. It was kind of like a real hit. And we sat, we talked and I thanked him for changing my life.
“And by then it didn’t matter because the show was almost over. Anything goes and that was it. If it would have happened in an earlier season, that would have been a tough pill to swallow for me.”
The Talking Sopranos podcast is available now.