The Many Saints of Newark star Vera Farmiga has addressed her awkward audition for the role of Valentina La Paz in the classic HBO series. Farmiga is set to join the Sopranos universe as Livia Soprano in the upcoming prequel, which will explore the origins of Tony Soprano. The film debuts on October 1.
Helmed by frequent Sopranos director Alan Taylor, The Many Saints of Newark has assembled a robust cast of recognizable actors to fill out its ranks. One of the most important of the bunch is Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano, the mother of Tony Soprano and matriarch of the Soprano family for seasons 1 and 2 of the original series. Portrayed by Nancy Marchand during her tenure on the show, Livia was eventually written out of the series due to the real-life death of Marchand in 2000. Now, with The Many Saints of Newark filling in a gap in the Sopranos timeline, Vera Farmiga has stepped in to depict a younger version of the character.
Though she is finally going to enter the New Jersey crime world, Vera Farmiga revealed to EW that she almost appeared on The Sopranos as Valentina La Paz – the prankster girlfriend of Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano) who eventually left her low-level mobster boyfriend for Tony. In a recent interview, Farmiga opened up about her audition for Valentina and reflected on her awkward experience going for the role, which would eventually go to Leslie Bega. To this day, the actress is unsure of what specifically lost her the part, but says she remembers The Sopranos creator David Chase being impossible to read in the room. Farmiga explained:
“I remember it being very quiet in the room. I remember David Chase just staring at me. I didn’t know if I killed it or they were lukewarm. I couldn’t discern it… It just wasn’t my time. Or maybe I sucked, I don’t know. God, even then it was regarded as the best TV show. Getting the role, Jesus, that would have been something.”
Many other “what if” scenarios like Farmiga’s almost-casting have occurred during The Sopranos over the years. Goodfellas star Ray Liotta also auditioned for a role in the series, Ralph Cifaretto, and so Farmiga and Liotta would have played opposite each other had they both been cast. Like Farmiga, Liotta didn’t land a role in the legendary HBO series but is now set to join the Sopranos universe in the reported role of Aldo Moltisanti. While neither of the actors managed to become part of the show’s iconic legacy during its time on the air, they now have the chance to make their mark in their new characters as they jump to the big screen and streaming landscapes.
It will undoubtedly be interesting to see what Vera Farmiga brings to the role of Livia Soprano when The Many Saints of Newark finally debuts. A completely different type of character from Valentina La Paz, Livia was a manipulative and emotionally abusive woman, which will likely allow Farmiga to go to darker places than playing La Paz would’ve allowed her. What’s more, Valentina only appeared on The Sopranos for a handful of episodes before Tony threw her away. With possible sequels to the movie on the horizon, however, Farmiga could potentially go on to play Livia again in the future if the movie succeeds. Audiences will see Farmiga step into the role of Livia Soprano when The Many Saints of Newark debuts in theaters and on HBO Max on October 1.