‘The Sopranos’: Matt Servitto Said Fans Went From Hating Agent Harris to Loving His Character
Being an actor on The Sopranos could involve some strange interactions with fans. Annabella Sciorra, who played Gloria Trillo in season 3, once spoke of fans’ disapproval about the fact Gloria slept with Tony Soprano, a married man. (If marital infidelity gets you down, wait till you hear about Tony’s business.)
Michael Imperioli, who played the troubled Christopher Moltisanti, also caught some blowback from fans over the years. In Imperioli’s case, fans would express outrage over the scene in which Christopher accidentally kills his girlfriend’s dog. (Fans didn’t tend to mention the people Chrissie killed.)
It turns out that actors on the law enforcement side also caught their share of flak. Matt Servitto, who shined as FBI agent Dwight Harris, told the Talking Sopranos podcast that he’d catch heat from fans for trying to nab Tony Soprano. Yet fans did an abrupt about-face with respect to agent Harris late in the Sopranos run.
‘Sopranos’ fans didn’t like Matt Servitto’s Agent Harris until he began helping Tony Soprano
On The Sopranos, agent Harris does exactly what you expect a member of the FBI to do: He does his best to catch New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano committing crimes. But that didn’t sit well with Sopranos fans. “The fans hated my guts,” Servitto said on Talking Sopranos.
Yet that feeling didn’t last forever. After Harris starts doing anti-terrorism work for the FBI, he and Tony begin to help each another. “I would come to the pork store and sit,” Servitto said. “And Tony would come and sit, I’d have an espresso, and we’d just kind of chat. I’d give him a little intel; he’d give me a little intel.”
Once Servitto’s character made that switch, he saw the immediate impact on his interactions with fans. “That changed everything for me with the show,” Servitto recalled. “The fans all of a sudden were like, ‘Oh man, I love your character.’ And I’m like, ‘Really? Oh, now you love me because I’m not chasing [Tony] anymore.'”
Servitto compared the Tony Soprano-Agent Harris relationship to that of Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog
By the end of The Sopranos, Harris is close enough to Tony Soprano to warn him about a possible hit in the making. Harris had heard from associates that chatter from the Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent) crew suggested New York was hunting the Jersey boss.
Then, in an even more over-the-top move, Harris gives Tony a tip about Phil’s location on Long Island. And in one of the show’s funniest moments, Harris actually cheers when he hears that Leotardo is dead. Servitto saw the Harris-Tony relationship as very much like that of Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf in Looney Tunes.
“They both punch the clock, then the sheepdog chases [Ralph Wolf] all day,” Servitto said on Talking Sopranos. “Then at the end of the episode, they go, ‘Good night, Ralph.’ ‘Good night, Sam.’ And they both go home. That’s really what was happening.”