Even The Sopranos' Stars Didn't Understand Why The Show Was A Success Going Into Season 2

It's hard to believe now, but there once was a time when people had never heard of "The Sopranos." The HBO series, created by David Chase, helped usher in a new era of prestige television that led to shows like "Breaking Bad," "The Wire," and more. But back when they were just a fledgling television series trying to do something very different with its mafioso characters, many of the people making the show had no idea if they were successful. In the oral history of "The Sopranos," actor Edie Falco, who played Carmela Soprano, the wife of mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), revealed that she had no idea if the show was going to be a hit or not. She eventually realized that she was a part of something special, that was a huge part of the cultural conversation, but it didn't happen overnight. 

Winging it and creating TV gold

In her interview for the oral history, Falco explained that both she and Gandolfini started realizing that the show was starting to take off when they were called back to shoot season 2, saying:

"It was a slow dawning on me that this show was something bigger than I had anticipated. When we got picked up for the second season, Jim [Gandolfini] told me, 'Well, now we got to go do it again, whatever it was we were doing.' Clearly, he didn't know what he was doing, I didn't know what I was doing, but we were going back to do that again. If I had thought about it too much, you always think someone is going to come with a hook and pull you off the stage like, 'How the hell did you get in here?'"

While it's pretty wild to think now that Falco and Gandolfini both felt as if they didn't know what they were doing, because their performances in "The Sopranos," even the first season, are spectacular. They embody their characters and make them more sympathetic and human than they might have simply been on the page. Very few first seasons are as good as "The Sopranos," so it's amazing that the stars didn't realize exactly what they were a part of. 

Then again, given the show's long wait between filming the pilot and getting picked up for a full season, it's not too surprising that they were skeptical of success. Eventually, the whole country would be swept up in "The Sopranos" and every TV creator worth his salt was trying to mimic that brilliance, and Falco and Gandolfini would know for sure that they had become a part of television history.