Why Annabella Sciorra Turned Down a Bigger ‘Sopranos’ Role Than Gloria Trillo
Even for a character on The Sopranos, Gloria Trillo had quite the roller-coaster ride. When we first find her in the waiting room of Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), it’s clear from Gloria’s interaction with Tony (James Gandolfini) that we’ll see her again soon.
That isn’t just because of the time the writers devote to the meeting; it’s also the fact Gloria is played by Annabella Sciorra. At the time of her Sopranos debut on “He Is Risen” (Season Three, Episode Eight, 2001), Sciorra had long ago made a name for herself in films by Spike Lee and Abel Ferrara.
Viewers don’t have to wait long for the return of Gloria (Sciorra). By the end of “He Is Risen,” Tony has shown up at the Mercedes dealership where she works and brought her out to his boat for a romantic encounter. And the episode ends with Gloria as Tony’s preferred goomar.
But Gloria’s status quickly changes by the end of Season Three, and viewers learn she’s dead in Season Four. So Sciorra’s fine run on the show is done (outside of Tony flashbacks). Had she taken the part she was originally offered, it could have been very different.
Sciorra didn’t want to play the role of Janice Soprano.
After the long, successful run of a show like The Sopranos, it can be hard to go back and imagine another actor playing a famous role. For example, creator David Chase originally wanted Steven Van Zandt (Silvio Dante) to play the role of Tony Soprano. (Gandolfini’s audition changed that.)
The part of Janice Soprano was also up for grabs before Aida Turturro locked it down. At her audition, Turturro remembered seeing Marcia Gay Harden and feeling a bit intimidated. But Harden was just one of the big names under consideration for the role.
In 2012, Sciorra told Vanity Fair how Chase had wanted her to play Janice. She didn’t think it was right for her at the time. “I turned it down because he wanted me to wear age makeup and dye my hair,” she said. If that sounds odd for Janice’s character, that’s because it changed by Season Two.
Originally, Janice was going to be more than a few years Tony’s senior. “She was supposed to be much older than Tony,” Sciorra said. “I wasn’t ready to do that, which is kind of dumb.”
The steak-throwing scene became a highlight of Sciorra’s turn as Gloria.
Before Gloria takes her own life, she has a memorable encounter with Tony in the “Pine Barrens” episode. Already angry that Tony is late for their candlelight dinner, Gloria goes ballistic when Tony has to leave early to tend to an emergency.
That’s when Gloria hurls a steak at Tony. More than a decade later, that moment stands as one of the greatest acts by a goomar on the show. Over the years, Sciorra has heard from a lot of Sopranos fans how they felt about that steak-tossing — and her relationship with Tony as a whole.
“People were like, ‘We’re never going to like you, because you’re sleeping with Tony and he’s married,'” Sciorra told Vanity Fair. “On the other hand, they would also say, ‘When you threw that steak at Tony, you threw that steak for all womankind.'”