Steven Van Zandt recalls landing ‘The Sopranos’ lead before James Gandolfini: ‘Wiser heads prevailed’


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Steven van Zandt’s acting debut almost looked very different.

The rocker, now 70, is best known for playing Silvio Dante in “The Sopranos”, his first on screen, save for a blink-and-miss-it cameo in 1985’s “American Flyers”.


The star appeared in 79 of the show’s 86 episodes, but fans saw him play an almost entirely different role: Tony Soprano, the lead.

Van Zandt recently spoke with Granthshala News about his memoir, “Unrequited Infatuations,” in which he reflects on his life and career as a musician, actor, and activist. During their conversation, he recalled the casting process of “The Sopranos”.

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“as it turns out, [creating Silvio Dante] was cooperative because [‘The Sopranos’ creator David Chase] Cast Me As Tony and HBO Said, ‘Are You Out of Your Mind? This is the costliest show ever, we can’t have a guy who has never acted before,” the musician recalled.

Starr added: “So, Wise Heads prevailed, thankfully, and one of the greatest actors of all time, [James] Gandolfini, got the gig.”

Van Zandt won a pair of Screen Actors Guild Awards for his work on the show as part of his ensemble cast. He has also worked on several other high-profile projects including “Lillehammer,” “The Christmas Chronicles” and “The Irishman.”

Steven Van Zandt Plays ‘The Sopranos’ and How His Time in the E Street Band Prepared Him to Play Silvio

The book covers much of his time on “The Sopranos”.

“It starts out as a music book, the story of a musical boy,” Van Zandt explained. “The second half of the book is a completely different story.”

Includes stories from his time as a member of the E Street Band with Bruce Springsteen, before the act made it big.

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“We had the residence that we would park at Stone Pony, which was really the high point of it pre-making,” he recalled of a nightclub in Asbury Park, New Jersey, that helped make the band famous. .

His politically charged solo career has also been covered.

“I was reading a lot about politics at the time and became obsessed with politics, really,” Van Zant recalled. “I said, ‘Okay, I’ll be the political guy.’”

Overall, the book was generous to write.

“It was fun to remember those things and go through them and see why you did certain things – mistakes,” the musician said.

Granthshala News’ Ashley Dworkin contributed to this report.

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