I’m enjoying the Talking Sopranos podcast at the moment.
Michael Imperioli (Christopher) and Steve Schrippa (Bobby Baccala) are going through the show bit by bit – one podcast per episode – with special guests and great insights into the writing, directing, acting and behind the scenes stories that shaped one of, if not the landmark TV series of our time.
Robert Iler was their special guest on Episode 7. In the show, he was the youngest regular member of the cast, playing the main character Tony Soprano’s son AJ (Anthony Junior). He was 12 when the pilot was shot, and 22 when the show finished, so spent his formative years among this crew. For anyone who doesn’t want to immediately feel old, skip to the next paragraph, but he is now 35.
But it was clear from the way he spoke on the podcast that this was an amazing time in his life. And not just in his life, but in the lives of Imperioli and Schrippa also. The camaraderie among the cast seems to have been incredible – on top of that they were working on a groundbreaking show with top class writers, directors, and none of them have worked on anything like it since.
The difference is that Imperioli and Schrippa have kept working – they have had lots of acting jobs since, but Iler hasn’t.
He told his two ex-colleagues that he feels that if he takes another job it could ruin the experience he had all those years ago. That working on The Sopranos was so good, that nothing he will ever do in the future could possibly live up to it, so rather than risk that, he’s just not going to work as an actor.
And that is one way of approaching things I guess.
It’s like the schools rugby player who captains his school to the final, wins the game and lifts the trophy in front of 20,000 people, and that night gets with the girl he has been chasing for years. How can life get better than that? If he was of the same mind as Robert Iler, he’d probably stop playing rugby there and then. But I think he would be mistaken.
It’s OK to have other interests. We may want to explore other avenues. But if we love doing something, we shouldn’t let one amazing experience early in life prevent us from trying anything in that field again. It may not be the same as before, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be great in a different way.