The ending of “The Sopranos” might have been a lot clearer had David Chase stuck to his original idea.
In an interview on The Hollywood Reporter‘s “Awards Chatter” podcast, the show’s creator talks about the enigmatic ending of the show, which left its antihero Tony Soprano’s fate up in the air.
“See, I didn’t think that ‘Sopranos’ would live on at all even after doing it and even after it got all these accolades because I thought, In a couple of years the references won’t work, nobody will know what we’re talking about, the phones will be different, TVs will be different,” Chase says of the show’s legacy. “That part of it is true — the technology is different — but apparently what it’s about still resonates with people. So I’m just delighted to see that. To think that you’re really reaching a generation 20 years later is astounding.”
On the ending itself, Chase is asked about a quote he gave in an interview years ago, which seemed to tip off that Tony was killed in the final scene.
“Well, I had that death scene in mind for years before,” Chase had said.
But in the new interview, the creator clarifies that he was referring at the time to an alternate ending he had originally envisioned.
“The scene I had in my mind was not that scene. Nor did I think of cutting to black,” Chase explains. “I had a scene in which Tony comes back from a meeting in New York in his car. 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.
Asked about his inspiration for that original ending, he says, “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.”
Commenting on the controversy caused by the show’s final scene, Chase admits, “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.”
He explains why: “They wanted to know that Tony was killed. They wanted to see him go face-down in linguine, you know?” he says. “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 s**t for seven years. That bothered me, yeah.”