How ‘Sopranos’ Star Lorraine Bracco Prepared to Play Psychiatrist Dr. Melfi

by Jeremy Spirogis
Lorraine Bracco and James Gandolfini on the

Though a outstanding casting director was virtually begging her to learn the pilot script of the The Sopranos, Lorraine Bracco didn’t wish to do it. Since delivering her Oscar-nominated efficiency in Goodfellas (1990), Bracco had averted mafia tales just like the plague.

But after she learn the Sopranos script she got interested within the new HBO undertaking. While she wouldn’t think about the Carmela Soprano half, she got here to prize the function of psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Bracco actually beloved the concept of taking part in an informed, subtle Italian-American lady on the present.

Once she’d secured the function, Bracco went about her preparation for Melfi. Though her background was in modeling previous to working as an actress, Bracco might draw on private expertise to tell her dealing with of the psychiatrist. The experiences got here from her personal time in remedy.

Lorraine Bracco drew on her personal experiences with psychiatrists to play Dr. Melfi

Lorraine Bracco and James Gandolfini on the 'Sopranos' set
Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi and James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on ‘The Sopranos’ | HBO

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On the August 2 version of the Talking Sopranos podcast, co-hosts Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti) and Steve Schirripa (Bobby Baccala) welcomed Bracco and requested all about her begin within the business and time on The Sopranos.

When Imperioli requested about prepping to play Melfi, Bracco didn’t hesitate. “I had two psychiatrists in real life,” she stated. “And I stole from the both of them.” Bracco stated one was a girl whereas the opposite was a person, and he or she took “the yin and the yang” from the 2 of them.

Before taking the function, Bracco stated she needed some kind of reassurance from Sopranos creator David Chase. “I said, ‘Listen, I’m not sure I would be sitting here talking to you if I didn’t have a good shrink and good medicine,’” Bracco recalled. In temporary, she needed to know if the Melfi character would stay a dedicated psychiatrist because the present developed.

Bracco thought of her time in remedy a ‘serious, life-turning experience’

Lorraine Bracco at 'Sopranos' premiereLorraine Bracco at 'Sopranos' premiere
Lorraine Bracco arrives at “The Sopranos” Sixth Season New York City Premiere. The occasion occurred at MoMA, 53rd Street in New York City.| Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

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Bracco revered psychiatrists enormously, and he or she needed to make positive Dr. Melfi would keep considerably near the character she noticed within the pilot. “I went through a really, really hard time in my life,” she stated. “If you’re gonna make [Melfi] the psycho killer, sex addict, blah-blah-blah … I’m not your girl,” Braco recalled telling Chase.

In a manner, Bracco noticed a possibility to point out the kind of constructive influence therapists had had on her. “For me, it was a very serious, life-turning experience,” she stated. “Whether that will [happen] with Tony Soprano, I don’t know. But I want [Melfi] to be serious.”

Though Dr. Melfi had her flaws (like each Sopranos character), she remained dedicated to serving to her affected person all through her time seeing Tony Soprano. So Bracco acquired her want. In the top, Melfi turned out to be probably the most conflicted, complicated characters on The Sopranos. And it stays one in all Bracco’s signature roles.

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