‘The Sopranos’ Almost Cast Steve Van Zandt As Tony, The Guitarist Claims

Steve Van Zandt has lived something of a charmed life. He’s been a part of the two biggest things to come out of New Jersey (the E Street Band and The Sopranos, of course), had a successful solo career, and his own radio show.

But the biggest prize of his career – one that seems strange in retrospect – is that he was almost cast as Tony Soprano in the HBO series instead of James Gandolfini.

In a new interview with Cleveland.com to promote his new book Unrequited Infatuations, out today, Van Zandt recalled what might have been.

“…It was one of those weird things. (series creator David Chase) wanted unusual, new faces and he really thought I could do it, and out of pure ignorance naiveté I thought I could do it. Luckily HBO wouldn’t let him, so we ended up with one of the greatest actors of all-time, Jimmy G (Gandolfini).”

Van Zandt had another role that was suitable.

“(Chase) still wanted me in the show and I actually said to David, ‘Listen, I’m feeling pretty guilty about taking an actor’s job here,’ and he said, ‘OK, in that case, I’ll write you in a part that doesn’t exist,’ and (Silvio Dante) was born.”

Fans are revisiting The Sopranos now that the prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, hits theaters and HBO Max on October 1. The film explores Tony Soprano’s origin story. Michael Gandolfini plays the role of Tony Soprano in the film.

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