‘The Sopranos’: Aida Turturro Recalled How Nancy Marchand Put Her at Ease for a Janice-Livia Scene

Amidst the murderers, rapists, and serial abusers you’d see on any given episode of The Sopranos, there were some really scary characters — I’m talking about the women of the Soprano family. Over the course of the show, Janice (Aida Turturro) and Livia (Nancy Marchand) did as much harm as the gangsters.

We might as well start with Janice. Fresh off of leaving behind her son Harpo Hal, Janice proceeded to shack up with the notorious Richie Aprile (David Proval) before ending his life at the dinner table. In season 3, she sank even lower when she stole the prosthetic leg of her Livia’s home aide.

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Livia, of course, convinced her brother-in-law Junior (Dominic Chianese) to kill her own son Tony (James Gandolfini) in season 1. That didn’t work, and Tony nearly returned the favor using a hospital-bed pillow.

When Turturro arrived on the set for season 2, she found herself working frequently opposite Gandolfini and Marchand, the latter of whom she considered the consummate professional. But it didn’t take long for Marchand to make Turturro feel comfortable on the job .

Aida Turturro played a confusing scene with Nancy Marchand early on in ‘The Sopranos’ Season 2

Nancy Marchand as Livia Soprano
Nancy Marchand as Livia Soprano in ‘The Sopranos’ | HBO

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When Janice Soprano returns to New Jersey from the West Coast, she goes by Parvati and aims to get her share of whatever Livia has left. But it doesn’t take long for Livia to remind her why she left the Garden State in the first place.

By season 2 episode 2 (“Do Not Resuscitate”), Janice gets the full manipulative-narcissist treatment from Livia. After telling a nurse that she’s going to leave the woman her money, Livia tells Janice she needs to find the money, hinting it’s stashed somewhere.

Janice, already sick of Livia’s games, starts looking over her shoulder at a hospital sign. It reads “IN CASE OF FIRE, USE STAIRS.” The image of a person walking down the stairs serves as the sign’s visual.

As Janice looks at the sign, she pictures Livia’s head on the stick-figure body. However, instead of walking down the steps, Janice’s vision of Livia is falling down the staircase head-first. It’s an odd clip, and Turturro didn’t get that bit in the script. She was grateful Marchand didn’t, either.

Turturro loved hearing Marchand say she had no idea about the ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ scene

'Sopranos' ladies
Aida Turturro, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, and Drea de Matteo of ‘The Sopranos’ pose together in 2001. | Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.

On the Talking Sopranos podcast, Turturro explained how she was thrown off by the vision Janice has. “It was this very strange, kind of Hitchcock-y scene,” she recalled. “I’m reading it and I’m thinking, oh my God, I don’t understand this. But who am I to say — it’s my second episode. I’m gonna shut my mouth.”

But Turturro found relief while rehearsing with Marchand. “Nancy — thank God — she goes, [imitating Marchand’s voice] ‘I don’t understand this!’ [Turturro makes praying gesture.] Thank you, Nancy. I was like, OK. I don’t feel so bad.”

As the Talking Sopranos co-hosts laughed at the memory of Marchand, Turturro kept going. “She was like [in Marchand’s voice], ‘What the f*ck is this? I don’t understand this sh*t.’ I was like, ‘Me either! Thank God.’ She was amazing,” Turturro said.”