Some people can’t imagine the characters on HBO’s The Sopranos played by any other actors. Considering how much work went into casting some of the show’s big roles, that makes sense. Take the casting of Richie Aprile, a role eventually played so well by David Proval.
Prior to getting Proval for the part, producers looked for more physically imposing actors (including Ed O’Neill). That made sense, considering Richie would need to intimidate Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). But Proval had the menace that transcended his height and weight.
In other cases, actors that came in for one role ended up playing another character. That was the case for Tony Sirico. Prior to taking his memorable turn as Paulie Walnuts, Sirico read for the part of Corrado “Junior” Soprano. Producers kept looking until they found Dominic Chianese.
Something similar happened to Kathrine Narducci, who played Charmaine Bucco, wife to Artie (John Ventimiglia). Before she took on Charmaine, Narducci read for the lead female role on The Sopranos.
Kathrine Narducci tried out for Carmela before playing Charmaine Bucco on ‘The Sopranos’
On the Talking Sopranos podcast, Narducci told a story that echoes what other actors on the show said about their audition. At first, she thought the series was about opera singers. (Drea de Matteo, who played Adriana La Cerva, said the same thing.)
Narducci recalled hearing about it first from Cathy Moriarty, who came to fame playing the wife of Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) in Raging Bull (1980). “[Moriarty] said, ‘Nar-dooch, there’s a show called The Sopranos and I’m gonna be screen-tested for it. It’s a great show and you should find out about it,’” Narducci said.
So she contacted her agent, who got her an audition in front of Sopranos creator David Chase and a lineup of producers, casting agents, and HBO executives. Narducci read that first day for the part of Carmela Soprano, who was played by Edie Falco.
Thought she didn’t get Carmela, she did get good news. “That night, I got a call from [casting director] Georgianne Walken. She said, ‘They loved you, they want you to come in. There’s another role, and they definitely want you to be a part of this show.’” And producers kept their word.
Narducci recalled the ‘Sopranos’ audition being more nerve-wracking than her ‘Bronx Tale’ audition
Narducci didn’t have a conventional path to making it as an actor. When she landed the major role of the wife of the bus driver (played by De Niro) in A Bronx Tale (1993), Narducci had no professional experience. Yet she found herself far more nervous trying out for The Sopranos.
“They were all there at this big, long table,” she told Talking Sopranos. “That was nerve-wracking. I was nervous for that. I was more nervous for that than I was for A Bronx Tale. I mean, with A Bronx Tale I never had that whole table setting — 25 people just waiting for you to open your mouth.”
But when Narducci did her lines a second time for Charmaine, producers didn’t hesitate. “I got that right away,” she recalled. However, it didn’t get any easier. When Narducci read for Charmaine, the same lineup of producers and HBO people watched her work.
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