This Actor From ‘The Sopranos’ Is Also an Oscar-Nominated Director

The Sopranos won numerous awards, but some fans might not know one of its actors won the Academy Award for Best Director. He directed a classic 1970s movie years before appearing on the show. Here’s how he went from that to a role in The Sopranos.

Tony Soprano sitting with his therapist
A scene from The Sopranos | HBO

The classic 1970s drama a ‘Sopranos’ directed

The 1970s was a great time for realism in American movies. For example, horror films got grittier, war films got more violent, and Rocky was a lot more down-to-earth than previous boxing movies. One of the films that came out of this realism trend was 1971’s The Last Picture Show.

A low-key evocation of small-town 1950s America, The Last Picture Show is much closer to the reality of the time period than Leave It to Beaver or Norman Rockwell’s paintings. The director of the film was none other than Peter Bogdanovich. Bogdanovich later played Dr. Elliot Kupferberg in The Sopranos. Keupfergerg is Jennifer Melfi’s therapist.

A trailer for The Last Picture Show

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How Peter Bogdanovich reacted to losing the Oscar

The Last Picture Show is considered a classic. According to Oscars.com, it received a number of Academy Award nominations, including nods for Best Picture and Best Director for Bogdanovich. Ultimately, the film lost both awards to another realistic 1970s classic, William Freidkin’s The French Connection. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Bogdanovich contrasted his reaction to the Oscar ceremony with Friedkin’s and relayed a funny anecdote from Oscar night.

“I think [Friedkin] handled himself much better in the political environment of the Oscars than I did,” Bogdanovich said. “He was humble, and I wasn’t. He was generous to me, and I wasn’t particularly to him. Politically, he beat me in a million ways. I remember the funniest moment was at the Directors Guild where The French Connection won and Jack Lemmon came up to me and said, ‘This is a crock of sh*t. You made the best picture in 20 years.’” So how did Bogdanovich go from directing acclaimed movies to acting in The Sopranos?

A trailer for The Sopranos

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How Peter Bogdanovich went from ‘The Last Picture Show’ to ‘The Sopranos’

According to The Guardian, Bogdanovich had two big successes after The Last Picture Show: Paper Moon and What’s Up, Doc? He later made a movie called They All Laughed which Bogdanovich called “career suicide.” He lost $5 million by making the film, which was one of the most notorious bombs of its era. 

The Film Stage reports Bogdanovich — who had been acting since he was a teenager — got a role on the show Northern Exposure. David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, took note of his acting and later gave Bogdanovich the role of Kupferberg, a role specifically tailored for him.

Peter Bogdanovich wearing glasses
Peter Bogdanovich | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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Although Bogdanovich is no longer a major Hollywood director, popular filmmakers Noah Blumbach and Wes Anderson both look to Bogdanovich as a father figure. In conclusion, Bogdanovich had an interesting career in both film and television.