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CNN Larry King Live

Cast of `Sopranos' Discusses Show's Success

Aired May 18, 2001 - 21:00   ET


KING: Tonight: Their show is such a hit it ought to be a crime. But some say "The Sopranos" needs to be whacked for stereotypes and violence. Joining us for the hour, cast members of this incredible series. They will talk family, and take your calls. But, will they squeal about the season finale? It is next -- badabing!-- on LARRY KING LIVE.

Thanks for joining us. One thing you can take to the bank, millions of viewers will be glued to their TV sets this Sunday night for the season finale of "The Sopranos," HBO's acclaimed and controversial series.

With us, some of the show's key cast members. In Jacksonville, Florida, Emmy winner Edie Falco. She plays Carmela, the unhappy wife of mob boss Tony Soprano. In New York: Lorraine Bracco who plays Tony Soprano's psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Here in Los Angeles, Joe Pantoliano. He plays Rich (sic) Cifaretto, a copo (ph) in the Sopranos mob family and a seriously nasty person.

Back in New York, Tony Sirico, he plays Paulie Walnuts, a Sopranos family capo who's in trouble with Russian Mafia. And in London, Michael Imperiole. He plays Christopher Moltisanti, a recent made man in the Soprano organization. He and Paulie Walnuts have some major issues. And back in New York, Robert Iler, who plays Anthony Soprano Jr., Tony and Carmella's troubled and troublesome son.

OK, where do we start here -- are you -- will we, Edie Falco, will we be shocked Sunday night? I'm not going to ask you to tell me, because I know you are probably not, but I will ask anyway, will we be shocked?


KING: OK, keep it up, Falco. Want to remain on the program? Will we be we shocked? OK, Michael, will we be shocked Sunday night?

MICHAEL IMPERIOLE, "CHRISTOPHER MOLTISANTI": You will be surprised. I don't know if you will be shocked.


IMPERIOLE: I don't know if that helps you out, Larry.

KING: It don't. Tony, what do you think? How will we react as a viewer, Sunday night?

TONY SIRICO, "PAULIE WALNUTS": You will enjoy the show, I can tell you that.

KING: Do you think we will be surprised or shocked or neither?

SIRICO: You will be absolutely shocked.

KING: OK. Lorraine, is someone who we have been used to watching going to be eliminated Sunday night?

LORRAINE BRACCO, "DR. JENNIFER MELFI": Your Honor, under the grounds, I cannot testify. Larry, you can't ask us questions like that. You know we are not going to answer them. Everybody has been waiting to find out what's going to happen for the next -- this last episode. We are not going to let you know.

KING: OK, all I'm asking is about surprise or shock or whether there will be great...

BRACCO: I think Michael is right. I think you will be surprised.

KING: Now, when, Joe, did you know, how in advance do you get your script?

JOE PANTOLIANO, "RALF CIFARETTO": We get them all at the same time. We go to a table read, and...

KING: So, you know the whole season to start?

PANTOLIANO: No, no. Every week we go to work and for next week we sit down with the cast, and with the guest actors, and we sit down and do a table read.

KING: And you understand this secrecy aspect of it?

PANTOLIANO: Yes. It is, -- I think it is more for the writers. They have worked very hard to maintain a surprise element in the show and it just would be wrong to give them up.

KING: I understand. They never failed to let us down, though, did they?

PANTOLIANO: No, it's fantastic

KING: Robert, you are the youngest member of this group, and probably the most innocent. What are your thoughts -- what are your thoughts on Sunday night?

ROBERT ILER, "ANTHONY SOPRANO": I don't know. I mean I think since Edie doesn't remember, I guess she will be shocked. But I don't know, I think everybody's really going to enjoy it.

KING: OK, I will get back to it later. Edie, how did you get this part? FALCO: I auditioned.

KING: Did you like it right away? Did you think this would be what it has become?

FALCO: You know, I don't really ever have any idea of what people are going to like or the extent to which they will like it. I liked it and I knew who she was, you know, and the writing was great and I loved the dialogue, and that is, you know, as much is I knew. As far as what it has turned into, I don't think anybody could have known, you know.

KING: You liked Carmella from the start, though, right?


KING: OK. Michael, how did you get the part of Christopher?

IMPERIOLE: I knew the casting people from other projects and they cast me in some other movies in a play. And I auditioned. I thought I bored David Chase to death during the audition. I thought I would never get the job, but somehow he turned out that he was liking me and I thought he hated me.

KING: Why, was he yawning?

IMPERIOLE: He kept telling me to do something different. He kept giving me different directions so I felt like I wasn't getting it. But I guess I was.

KING: I guess. Do you like Christopher?

IMPERIOLE: Yes, I find him very admirable. I think he is very loyal to the people in his family and the people he loves, and I think he speaks his mind. And I admire the fact that he sat down in a chair and actually completed a screenplay. He had an idea and he just didn't leave it at an idea. He actually completed it and wrote it.

KING: Tony, how did you get the coveted Paulie Walnuts role?

SIRICO: I auditioned for it. Matter of fact, what did was I auditioned for Big Pussy, and I auditioned for Uncle Junior. Both of them I auditioned for twice, and I got a call from David, one night. He said, "You didn't get either of them." I said, "Well, you got a lot of guts calling me up here. You could have had somebody else call me and tell me." I says, "You got a lot of class, David, thanks anyway." He said, "No, I got you in mind for somebody else," and along came Paulie Walnuts.

KING: Do you like him?


KING: Paulie.

SIRICO: I love Paul. KING: Paulie would really answer that that way. I understand actors don't have to like characters, but you've got to find something in them, right? You like him.

SIRICO: I helped create him. I love him. I love him. He is smart, and tough. He has got a great sense of humor. He is very opinionated. And he's a germ freak and he's a killer, but he is a contradiction. He's -- got a good heart, deep down inside.


SIRICO: You asked me, didn't you?

KING: I asked, you answered. All right.

SIRICO: He's a loyal guy. He's a type of guy, if you got caught in a foxhole, that is the guy you want with you, Larry.

KING: Along with you. Lorraine, we have seen you on the big screen many times. How did you get the Dr. Melfi role?

BRACCO: I read the script, I thought it was a great. I asked to go in and meet David Chase for the Dr. Melfi role. I loved Dr. Melfi. I thought it was a great character for me to play. It was a stretch for me, and something different as an actor and that is that.

KING: Did you buy right away the idea of a Mafia leader going to a psychiatrist?

BRACCO: In reading the script, you really get it. But when we first got, you know, that first pilot script it worked beautifully, yes.

KING: All right, we will pick right up. We'll get Robert and Joe's story. We'll get into the making of the script. And what we are going to do a lot of tonight is take your phone calls. This program is extraordinarily popular. It has upset a lot of people. There are people angry at it. We'll get the cast's thought on that as well.

And there's also, moving -- to NBC is -- the president of NBC sent out messages to work -- what can we do to combat something like this. "The Sopranos:" the finale of this season's episode. There will be complete new set of programs in their fourth year next fall. We will be right back. Don't go away.


SIRICO: Whoops!


SIRICO: What, it was an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You want to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) here? You come to my house. SIRICO: What did you call me?

IMPERIOLE: Paulie! Paulie, where the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are you!




SIRICO: Keep digging. Not that it matters now. You know, we didn't come to your house to kill you. That mouth of yours, you got to learn to shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.

IMPERIOLE: How far is to it Atlantic City?




KING: That is a great scene. Joe Pantoliano, how did you get the part?

PANTOLIANO: You know, that was all digital snow.

KING: Really?

PANTOLIANO: They did that in 80 degree weather. That is acting!

KING: That is acting -- you are not kidding. How did you get this part?

PANTOLIANO: David called me up, and...

KING: Knew your work?

PANTOLIANO: Yes, actually David Chase tried to hire me 18 years ago when he was working on the "Rockford Files," he wanted to do a spinoff of a character, and the network wouldn't, they wouldn't approve me. So he called me up, and after three hours of begging, I guess he thought about it, and decided to hire me.

KING: Do you like Ralfie? Ralfie is -- you've got to stretch to find something to like.

PANTOLIANO: You know, as an actor Ralfie is a really interesting character to play because he so is diabolical. He's like a Shakespearian villain, you know. And if you put Ralfie in a foxhole, he would shoot you in the heart and steal your wallet.

KING: So, do you try to find an edge to him? Do you have to like him to play him? PANTOLIANO: He -- is one of the most exciting characters I have ever played because it is such a challenge. The words that the writers and the behavior of the situation that they put me in this season it really is a -- it puts a smile on my face. I wouldn't be surprised to think that that is one of the reasons why Ralfie has always got a little smirk on his face. I get to be so vicious, and such a sociopath, psychopath, and it is just fun, it's delicious.

KING: Now, Robert, how did you get this wonderful role as the young son?

ILER: Basically the same as everybody else, just going on auditions. And I was going on about three or four auditions a week at the time. And then I just landed this and it was great.

KING: How old are you?

ILER: I'm 16.

KING: All right, so were you acting a lot? Were you doing Broadway plays in New York?

ILER: No. Basically I had done a few commercials. I did a little thing on "Saturday Night Live." I did a movie, but I never really did anything that took off like this.

KING: How are you able do it and go to school?

ILER: Well, I actually just started home schooling. And it is great.

PANTOLIANO: He's in the third grade now.

ILER: Yeah.

KING: So, you are doing a home schooling. In other words, obviously, your efforts will be in the field of drama.

ILER: Yes, or well, just acting, in general.

KING: You like it, obviously?

ILER: Yes. I like it a lot.

KING: What do you think of Young Anthony?

ILER: I think he is just like a typical 15 or 16-year-old kid. I mean basically, and then, I know we can't say anything about the season finale, but the season finale is great for my character, and it was just, it was a great opportunity.

KING: Now do you think of him as "child of gangster" or do you think of him as "teenaged kid"?

ILER: I think of him more along the lines of just teenage kid who is on the verge of figuring out that he is the son of a gangster. KING: Just on that cusp, so to speak?

ILER: Yes.

KING: About to find out. Edie, so many rewards have come your way out of this, obviously it is the part of a lifetime. A lot of people got concerned when we had your character go to the doctor. Is she OK?

FALCO: I can't tell you.

KING: Edie.

FALCO: My father called me and said, I know it is just a character you are playing, but you are all right, right? So, yes, you know, you're putting me in a bad position here, Larry.

KING: Are you signed for next year?


FALCO: Are any of us signed for next year? I'm always the last to know these things.

KING: All right. I was going to ask if all of them are coming back, but they won't answer that either. We are just building up Sunday night aren't we, folks?

When we come back we will talk about the violence aspect and we are going to take your phone calls for this delightful group that has made this show an incredible part of American television history. Don't go away.


FALCO: Your father and I have discussed your punishment.

JAMES GANDOLFINI, "TONY SOPRANO": You are grounded for a month. That means no Nintendo, no DVDs, no skateboards.

FALCO: And no computer

ILER: I use the computer for school.

FALCO: Get the typewriter out of the basement.

ILER: Dad threw it out.

FALCO: Then use a pen. It worked for Einstein, it can work for you.

GANDOLFINI: And on top of that going to work your little (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off around here, which you should have been doing anyway.

ILER: OK. GANDOLFINI: OK or not, you got no choice.




SIRICO: I didn't hear what you said, Ton.

GANDOLFINI: Bad connection, so I'm going to talk fast. The guy you are looking for is an ex-commando. He killed 16 Chechen rebels single handed.

SIRICO: Get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of here.

GANDOLFINI: Yeah, nice, huh? He was with the Interior Ministry. The guy's some kind of Russian green beret. This guy cannot come back to tell this story. You understand?

SIRICO: I hear you.

GANDOLFINI: I serious, Paulie.

SIRICO: Ton -- Ton, you there? Call me back!

You are not going believe this. He killed 16 Czechoslovakians. The guy was an interior decorator.

IMPERIOLE: His house looked like (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


KING: A lot of humor in "The Sopranos." And that whole Russian thing is one of the best. Let's take some phone calls before we talk about some of the criticism. Bloomfield, New Jersey, hello.

CALLER: Hi. This is for Paulie Walnuts.

KING: OK, Paulie.

CALLER: Hi, this is from -- hi -- it's a great show. We always love watching the show, but we want to know if the Russian's going to be in the season finale.

KING: That is a fair question. Is the Russian in the finale? They're not asking anything -- is he there?

SIRICO: Larry, I know what you are asking.

KING: No -- Bloomfield is asking.

SIRICO: How can I answer that? You are going to have to tune in, sweetheart. If -- if...


KING: They're not telling. OK, let's try Edmonton Alberta, Canada, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi, I just -- this question is for Lorraine and Michael. I love the show, by the way. I was just wondering, since both of you guys had roles in "Goodfellas," did that help you guys get these roles and prepare for the roles at all?

KING: Lorraine, your character is very different, of course. Was the fact that you were in "Goodfellas" help?

BRACCO: I can't say it's ever hurt me. So -- and I know David really likes the movie "Goodfellas," so, you know, it never hurt me.

KING: Michael?

IMPERIOLE: Yes, I mean "Goodfellas" put me on the map as an actor and I know David saw it and he was influenced by it, so I think it definitely helped that I had done that, you know, in getting the cast in this role, sure.

KING: Joe, we will start with you on this and let me just quote James Gandolfini when recently asked about the violence and the like. And this was in London's "Daily Telegraph." He was quoted as saying, "I don't think I will do a Mafia character again. I want to get away from the violence a little bit because it is starting to bother me. In the last series, I had to kill my best friend.

That is why I can't believe it when people ask me to come to talk to their kindergarten class about Tony Soprano. It boggles my mind, and I say, `are you watching the show?'" Does it bother you, Joe?

PANTOLIANO: Yes. I think that this is show that, I've always felt this way, that where Francis Coppola took "The Godfather," Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" and created the birth of an organization and made it very, very dramatic, and put a very pretty bow on it. And I think that this show represents the decline and the decay of a family unit. And through the -- I mean basically -- the American family unit and this particular group.

KING: Does the violence bother you, Edie?

FALCO: Yes, it kind of does. But, you know, I feel like it should. I think that is, on some level, I think that is the point. This isn't a story about a bunch of guys, you know, a bunch of good guys, really. What they do is violent, and on some level I think it is important -- I have a lot of mixed feelings about it -- but on some level I think it is important that you see it, so you know what's really going on.

KING: Robert, what's your feeling about it?

ILER: Well, I mean, I think Edie is totally correct that that's is the whole point is, I don't think people are supposed to like the violence, and enjoy violence. And I mean, I think basically, bringing the violence on is kind of a part of show that you not supposed to enjoy, but you're supposed to face as, I guess, reality.

KING: We will take a break and come back and talk about Italian- American resentment about "The Sopranos," and in some cases anger. Don't go away.


GANDOLFINI: Making you captain.

PANTOLIANO: You are? That is great! Oh, that is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) great. Anthony, you are not going to be sorry. Thank you.


PANTOLIANO: I need to hear, it was merit, and not just 'cause somebody was constipated and blew a gasket.

GANDOLFINI: You are going to be making a lot more money, Ralfie. So don't question. You want a captain, you are a captain.

PANTOLIANO: Thank you, Tony. You're right.




BRACCO: I have to sit there and take care of these people hour after hour, with all their problems. And some of them are very real, and very serious. And I'm sorry. I care, I really do. But it is hard sometimes. I just want to say, I hurt!


KING: Speaking of hurt, Lorraine, do you understand the pain that many Italian-Americans express about the way they are portrayed?

BRACCO: Sure I understand it. I think it is, you know, I can't say that, I can't deny them their feelings. I don't think that -- Hollywood has a love affair with mobsters, underworld characters, whether they are in action films, or in drama series, or in the movies like "The Godfather," or "Goodfellas," I mean -- Al Capone. I mean we just have a huge love fair with these characters.

Why? "Why" is the real question? Why is it that it is something that, you know, we are not making movies just about the Amish, so there is a reason people go and pay for that. They want it, they like it. It is exciting.

KING: Tony do you think it tends to stereotype? Do you think that many of the Italians offended by it think that people will watch this and think that is the way Italians are? SIRICO: No. We are not talking about the whole population. We are talking about a handful of people that just happen to be Italian. That's all. The Italians helped build this country. There is only few of them that have gone the other way. It just so happens, whoever started this put those few Italians on the map. People have fallen in love with them.

KING: Edie, how do you react to the criticism?

FALCO: I agree with Lorraine in that these people are certainly entitled to their feelings about this. I personally think it is short sighted, you know. I think they are missing the larger point, and, I mean, ideally they know lots of Italian people, so they are not going to think well, this is what Italians do -- all of them. We are...

KING: Does it ever give you pause when you are playing the role to say, "Am I hurting other Italians?" Do you ever think that?



FALCO: No. I mean I can speak about Carmella. I mean she's Italian but she's a lot of things. She's a mother, she's a wife, you know, I mean that is only one title the woman has, and all these characters, really.

KING: Michael, does it ever bother you?

IMPERIOLE: No, I think our audience is smart enough to know, for the most part, that these are fictional characters and this is not meant to represent the entire Italian-American experience, and I think, I think we have to give them enough credit to know that this is a fictional story, and they are characters.

KING: Joe?

PANTOLIANO: I think that if Italian-Americans are going to criticize this show, they should at least watch it, because it has been brought to my attention that most of the people that are criticizing having not even seen it.

KING: Which is -- how can you criticize if you haven't seen it.

PANTOLIANO: Yes, I mean, take the time to watch it and make a decision. I think this is pro-American. I think Lorraine plays a character that is very admirable. And they never -- none of these groups ever talk about her character and what she did, and she had an opportunity, her character had an opportunity to go to her client and say that she was raped and beaten, and, full knowing what would happen to that person, she never did that.

KING: I know Michael, Tony, Edie, Lorraine and Joe are Italian. Are you Italian, Robert.

ILER: No. Actually, I'm Irish, but... FALCO: Fire that boy.

ILER: I totally agree with what everybody's saying and specially Joe, because like, Lorraine's character, she bases her whole life on helping other people out and she is Italian, but I mean, if this whole show was about people who, I mean, help old ladies across the street or, you know, all great things, nobody would watch it.

KING: No one would watch. We will take a break and come back, reintroduce our panel, get a lot more phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.



SIRICO: What's that?

IMPERIOLE: Nathan's bag. There's some ketchups.

SIRICO: They clean?

IMPERIOLE: I don't know. They're were in the bag. They were a little half way frozen.

SIRICO: Gimme some.

Not bad. Mix it with the relish.


KING: Lot of funny stuff too. Welcome back. We're talking with some of incredibly talented cast members of "The Sopranos." In Jacksonville, Florida, Edie Falco, who plays Carmella Soprano. In New York, Lorraine Bracco who plays Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Here in Los Angeles, Joe Pantoliano, who plays mobster Ralf Cifaretto.

In New York, Tony Sirico, who plays mobster Paulie Walnuts. In London, Michael, Imperiole, who plays Christopher Moltisanti, a New York soldier in the Soprano family, and in New York, Robert Iler, who plays Anthony Soprano, Jr.

Let's go back to some phone calls and we go to Long Island, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi, guys. Me and my friend Christen (ph) are your biggest fans, but my question is actually for Joe. Joe, what did you think about all the controversy surrounding the episode when Ralf beat his girlfriend to death?

KING: Yes.

PANTOLIANO: I was surprised by -- a lot of the women that came up to me on the street were actually teasing me and saying how could I do that and you're so sexy, and you're so -- we love Ralfie. I mean, it threw me for a loop. KING: You notice, people like you for that?

PANTOLIANO: Well, yes, I mean, it's like, this is the most -- Ralf is probably one of the most despicable characters I've ever played, and you know, he's got a fan base now.

KING: Tony, do people come up on the street and call you Paulie?

SIRICO: Every day.

KING: What do you make of this? What's your explanation of all of this, that you people have become real to America?

SIRICO: Well, let me just say this for a minute, Larry. They hold my pants up too. Now what were you asking me?

KING: You had to get that in. You've been waiting.

SIRICO: Had to get it in, had to get it in.

KING: How do you explain all of this? That you people are like real to people, that people think of you as Paulie?

SIRICO: Well, we've got a great show. That's how I think of it. We've got a great show, a bunch of great actors, great writing and we're having a great time. I mean, I'm recognized everywhere, even in the men's room, but we won't talk about that. I mean it's incredible, and yet I'm having a ball. I'm having a ball, Larry.

KING: You once, I know it's not a secret, you...

BRACCO: Larry, can I say something?

KING: Yes.

BRACCO: You know, I think people and I think America's really loving this show and even worldwide because all of these characters are flawed.

KING: Aha! Are you looking at him because he is smoking?

PANTOLIANO: You look like your hair is on fire.

BRACCO: He is smoking, and I'm going to throw him out of the studio in a minute.

KING: I haven't seen anyone smoke on television well, he's Paulie. What are you going to do, mess around with Paulie? OK.

SIRICO: I had an urge, Larry.

KING: Do you agree, Edie, the characters are flawed and that is part of our appreciation of them?

FALCO: Yes, I think that is exactly it. I think people recognize themselves in them insofar as they try to do the best they can, but they fail a lot. So I think people relate to that.

KING: Monroe, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi. I'm so excited I forgot everybody's name. I have a question for Edie.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: First, I want to say, hey Carmella. Christopher, Paulie, I love you guys.

SIRICO: Thank you.

CALLER: Edie, are you suspicious at all of Dr. Melfi and Tony's attraction and relationship when you're having the sessions in there with them?

FALCO: I don't know anything about it.

KING: Do you think the character is suspicious or not?

FALCO: No. I don't think so. I think she is as suspicious as she is of any woman in Tony's life. But I think also she knows that he is being helped by their sessions.

KING: What's special about Tony?

FALCO: Is that is question for me?

KING: Yes, yes. What is his appeal. Now, James is the kind of guy, he's very shy, he doesn't go around doing interviews.

FALCO: Right.

KING: He's overweight. He's a nice looking man, but not, you know, he's not Robert Redford.

FALCO: That's my husband you're talking about.

KING: What's the...

ILER: That's my dad.

SIRICO: You could fit three Robert Redfords in Tony.

BRACCO: That's my favorite patient.

SIRICO: He's a hunk of a guy, Larry.


FALCO: He's not here to defend himself, most importantly. You're talking about Tony.

KING: Yes, Tony. What's his appeal? He is the star, I guess.

FALCO: Yes, he is...

KING: Ensemble, but he's the star.

FALCO: I mean, I can speak or I can try to speak from Carmella's point of view in that they have such a long history. I think their original connection was made at time when they were both so young, like a real young love thing, probably late teens. And so I think her early connection, history connection, with him is pretty deep. So I think that is a big part of it.

KING: Robert, is he a good father?

ILER: Yes, for the most part. I think he's a great father. I mean for his son to be 15 or 16 and still not figure out what he actually does for a living, I mean he is obviously got to pull some strings there.

KING: That's pretty good. We'll be right back with more of "The Sopranos," The final episode of year three is Sunday night. Don't go away.


GANDOLFINI: Carmella, I gave you five. Now, maybe I could go another five, maybe 10. But that's enough.

FALCO: Tony, you got to do something nice for me today. This is what I want. You got to do this.

GANDOLFINI: All right, I will go to 10. That should be enough for those Morning Side Heights gangsters.




UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Hillary Clinton? I can't stand that woman.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I know. Maybe we could all take a page from her book.

FALCO: What, to be humiliated in public, and then walk around smiling all the time? That is so false. I would dig a hole, I would climb into it, and I would not come out.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: All I know is she stuck by him and put up with the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and in the end, what did she do? She set up her own little thing.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: She did. She took all that negative (EXPLETIVE DELETED) he gave her, and spun it into gold. You got to give her credit.

FALCO: That's true isn't it. She is a role model for all of us.


KING: The title of the episode Sunday night, by the way, is an army of one. When you do shoot again, Joe? When do you start the fall season, when do you start?

PANTOLIANO: Well, I personally don't know. I'll have to find out on Sunday, if I make it though the episode, but...

KING: All right, when does shooting start for "The Sopranos" in case you're there?

PANTOLIANO: In case I'm there, it starts in October, sometime in October, I have been told.

KING: OK, and, let's go to Boston, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. This is a question for the cast.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: I'm curious about their backgrounds as Italian-Americans and what real life experiences, if any, they bring to their roles.

KING: OK, let's start with Tony. I don't think it's a secret, Tony. You did jail time, didn't you?

SIRICO: Yeah, I did, I did -- I went to college for a while.

KING: Do you bring that to the character?

SIRICO: I certainly do, Larry.

KING: Michael, do you bring anything of the heritage to Christopher?

IMPERIOLE: Well, you know, I am familiar with Italian-Americans, and then their customs and their culture. And I think that helps us out a lot, yes.

KING: Edie, what about you?

FALCO: I don't know. I don't have the similar life to Carmella -- oh, my gosh, that can't be my cell phone ringing. This has never happened before in my life -- anyway, I'm not a mother -- what?

KING: You are not mother.

FALCO: And I'm not a wife, and I don't have very much in common with Carmella at all, in fact. So -- I but I have seen, you know, I grew up in Long Island. I've seen these women and I am Italian- American so, I know kind of how the family works, so...

KING: By the way, what are you doing in Jacksonville?

FALCO: I'm shooting a movie with John Sayles and some tremendous actors, and just having a fantastic time.

KING: And Michael, what are you doing in London?

IMPERIOLE: I'm actually doing publicity for the -- the second season of "The Sopranos" is coming out DVD and video here in London, which is actually ahead of the United States in releasing these things. I don't know why, but it is.

KING: Lindenhurst, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, I have a question to Edie Falco.


FALCO: OK, Lindenhurst, hi.

CALLER: Hi, Edie, how are you?

FALCO: I'm good, thanks.

CALLER: That's good. I just have a question for you, I just want to know how you feel about all the nudity in the "Bodabing" club?

FALCO: You know, I feel similarly about it, as I do about the violence, I mean, you know, it is necessary. This is where these guys hang out, where they do their business, and you know, to each his own.

KING: What did you make, Joe, of the NBC memo they sent round saying that, kind of, in a sense, "The Sopranos" has an edge. It does well, it takes an audience away from a lot of networks on Sunday night, but it's on cable and they can say a lot of words that we can't say on NBC?

PANTOLIANO: I would say to them, pull up your stakes, forget about network television, and do a show on MSNBC.

KING: Do your own.

PANTOLIANO: Do your own. MSNBC presents "The Falsettos."


KING: Watch, don't give the suits an idea. We will be right back with more of "The Sopranos." Don't go away.



GANDOLFINI: You have what?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Cancer. The big casino. GANDOLFINI: Jesus Christ, when did you find this out?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Blood in my stool. Had my first test the day before your mother's funeral.

GANDOLFINI: That's why you've acted so (EXPLETIVE DELETED) weird? I mean, what is it? Is it in your colon or...


GANDOLFINI: Oh, Jesus Christ, Uncle Joe.



KING: Does everyone, Lorraine, get along as well as it would seem, based on this six here tonight and others we have seen? I mean is this a get along cast?

BRACCO: Absolutely! I mean, you hear us. You know, fooling around kidding with each other, when we go to the commercial breaks. It is still a wonderful family and fun, and we do. We have a great time. It has been terrific.

KING: What an experience, Robert it must be for you, a young man with a lot of talent, working around all of this talent.

ILER: Yes, it is, I mean, it is, specially with Nancy Marchand who passed away. That was just, I mean every time David gave me a scene with her it was just, it was just amazing working with her and she was unbelievable.

KING: Edie, did you know she was ill?

FALCO: Yes. I think we all knew she was ill. She -- you would never have known by her work ethic. She worked harder than maybe any one I have known and she never complained. But it was hard not to know that she was ill.

KING: Is this tough work, Joe? As acting goes, is this tough to do?

PANTOLIANO: No this is a gift, and I want to say, that, you know, coming on to a third season hit like this, that when I showed up at the beginning of the season, every one of these people couldn't have been nicer to me, and inviting to me and I really appreciated that, because it was really scary to come in and fill those kinds of shoes.

And you know, usually on a show by the third season everybody, they've all copped attitudes, nobody is talking to each other, somebody is angry about -- so they're not writing for me anymore -- and this is a cast that if we're strong or if we're weak in that episode, and we take it, and we support. Somebody gets a good show and everybody's there to support them. KING: Hamburg, New Jersey, hello.



CALLER: I have a question for Tony Sirico.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Tony, I would like to know if you have any personal input into the clothing on your show, particularly the Ganelli (ph) running suits that you wear.

SIRICO: No, not really, sweetheart. That is -- those choices are made by David Chase.

KING: Every article of clothing worn is...

SIRICO: And when I dress.

KING: Every article of clothing worn by every character is chosen by Chase?

SIRICO: Well no, actually David...

FALCO: Juliet...

SIRICO: Yes, well, David wanted me in running suits. And, that is the bottom line.

KING: Because you are not a running suit kind of guy, are you?

SIRICO: Take a look, Larry. Do I look like a running guy to you?

KING: No you don't look like a running guy to me. Do you have, Edie, can you go over to a writer and say, I'm uncomfortable with this line?

FALCO: I could, sure. It has been made clear to me that there's that freedom, but I have never felt the impulse to do that. These guys are great.

KING: Have any of you guys ever changed words?

ILER: By accident, I have.

KING: By accident, but I mean where you went to the writer and said I don't like this.

PANTOLIANO: I've gone to David and said, "Not that I don't like it, can I say something else?" And he will you know, he'll come back and say, you can say this, or no, do it the way it is written. But it is very, very few times. It is like, a gift to be able to say that guy's words. KING: Do you all watch the show on Sundays?




KING: Yes, you all do.

SIRICO: Without a doubt.

BRACCO: You know, Larry, I need to say something about the violence on the show, because I think that we've got America talking about violence. And that is, I think, very important. I think that lots of time in prime time television, we cover the violence up, the person who is already dead, and the blood is on the side.

I think if you see violence for what it is, it is a despicable act, people are revolted by it, and that is very important. And where prime time doesn't show that, they need to cover that up. And I think by having America talk about it and be revolted by the violence has been very important, I think, for our society.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with the cast of "The Sopranos" right after this.


GANDOLFINI: You wanted to see me?


GANDOLFINI: About what?

PANTOLIANO: About what? You know, to apologize.

GANDOLFINI: Oh. Sit down.

PANTOLIANO: I was doing a lot of coke. I said some things, I did some things that I'm sorry for. It is not going to happen again.



KING: Tony, do you read for other parts, in other, like movies and the like?

SIRICO: Absolutely.

KING: You do.

SIRICO: Absolutely.

KING: So... SIRICO: Go ahead.

KING: This has not stereotyped you, then.

SIRICO: Well, I have been in over 40 films and God knows how many TV show, and I have had a gun in my hand in most of them. But, I don't feel bad about it, Larry. I pay the rent and mortgage.

KING: You know "The Sopranos" would make a good feature length film, don't you think?

PANTOLIANO: Absolutely.

KING: I would make a great like, two and a half hour movie. For all those people who never get to see it.

SIRICO: I agree with you.

PANTOLIANO: One a year for the next 20 years.

KING: Could be the next "Star Trek."

PANTOLIANO: Yes, that is right.

KING: Tarzana, California, last call, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I have a quick question. First of all, I love the show. I want to know how the character of Christopher is related to Tony. How is it he's his nephew?

KING: Michael, what's the lineage?

IMPERIOLE: Yes, I believe Christopher is -- Christopher's mother is cousins with Carmella. And in Italian-American culture you'll often call someone who's your mother's cousin or something because they're a little bit older than you, a little bit, Edie, an uncle or aunt.

FALCO: Good cover there, Michael.

IMPERIOLE: So, that is where that comes from. I mean...

KING: Edie, you are doing a movie now, Edie, so obviously this -- we have, you play Carmella so well, we wonder if that might make movie producers hesitant to use you in other roles.

FALCO: Well, I do get a lot of scripts for mothers, Italian mothers, and, but the beautiful thing about the thing I'm doing now is it couldn't be more different, and I'm thrilled that I was thought of this way. But yes, that is not easily come by.

KING: Who are you playing?

FALCO: Sorry?

KING: What are you playing in this one? FALCO: A local Florida girl. Single, no kids.

ILER: Thanks, mom.

KING: It a comedy? If it's Waters, it's -- thanks, mom.

FALCO: No, no, John Sayles, John Sayles.

KING: John Sayles, not a comedy.

FALCO: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And a tremendous cast and crew.

KING: Thank you all very much for a delightful hour. Robert Iler, and Michael Imperioli, and Tony Sirico and Edie Falco, and Lorraine Bracco and Joe Pantoliano, the cast of "The Sopranos." James is on the shy side and doesn't like to do interviews for some reason. That is the reason he wasn't with us. We are great admirers of his work.

for more on the cast of "The Sopranos" you can go to AOL keyword "The Sopranos." Check out my favorite book picks on cnn.comlarryking -- I forgot to say "slash."

A candid conversation with Denise Rich Saturday night on LARRY KING WEEKEND. Don't miss it. Stay tuned for CNN TONIGHT. For all of the cast of "The Sopranos," badabing!