“Why would we want it to end?” Schirripa asks, his voice reverberating off the walls of the restaurant. He’s developing a sitcom with Touchstone, but you never know if that’s going to work out. Sirico, too, is thinking he’ll do some comedy. “Maybe do a Hope and Faith,” he says. “Be Kelly Ripa’s uncle Carmine, out of the can.” But if it was up to them The Sopranos would go on indefinitely.
“Look, we’re not done,” says Sirico. He brings a full glass of wine to his lips, and when he puts it back down, it’s empty. “He’s on the top of the hill,” he says, referring to Chase. “All he can go is down. That’s the way he thinks. We’d all like him to keep going. On and on and on and on. You hear me?”
A few months back, there was a shred of hope: Chase announced that he’d be extending the season by eight episodes—a decision he says was partly motivated by these actors, wanting to flesh out their characters. But he swears the show is really over: He, for one, knows how it will end. Gandolfini is ready to retire as well. “You can’t go too much more into Tony’s psyche,” he says. “He’s really a bridge now, between his family and mob life.” And how about the cast? Do his supporting actors ever encourage him to keep going? “Nah, they don’t put any pressure on me,” he says. “I put a lot of pressure on myself, knowing it’s a good thing for a lot of people.”
So good, in fact, that many of the guys prefer to deny their fates. Maybe it’s the wine, maybe the late hour, but suddenly a lot of silver linings are being manufactured. As the waiters bring a round of espresso, Sirico grabs me by the arm and shoots me the sort of unhinged look—eyes flaring, jaw trembling—that I’ve seen his character give many a marked man before pulling the trigger. “Let me just say this,” he says. “For those of us who survive this year, we have the chance of coming back. That’s profound, you hear that?” His eyes scan his fellow soldiers, one at a time, in a gesture so over-the-top that no one dares interrupt him. “For those of us who don’t survive, there’s no coming back.”
An uncomfortable silence follows. Finally, it’s Gannascoli who timidly raises his hand. “You never know,” he says. “There’s always a dream sequence.”