It’s hard to imagine anyone turning down a role in what was once HBO’s biggest series, but that’s preciously what Chris Rock did, and not just once either. Twenty years ago, The Sopranos was the biggest thing on television and Chris Rock was in the midst of releasing a series of highly successful HBO standup specials, and the actor told THR during a round-table interview that he turned down several offers to appear on the crime drama.
Chris Rock would go on to play crime boss Lou Cannon in the fourth season of Noah Hawley’s Fargo, and he almost turned down the opportunity just as he had The Sopranos all those years ago. The reason: he didn’t want to spoil either series.
[Fargo] is a big job. And sometimes you can respect something so much, you don’t even want to be a part of it. Years ago, when I had my own show on HBO, it was at the height of The Sopranos, and I got a couple of offers to be on The Sopranos, and I was like, “I like it too much, I don’t want to spoil it.” But I was such a fan [of Fargo], I took the meeting anyway, and then he presents me with this offer, and I’m like, “Whatever you want me to do, I’m down.” Because I saw how he handled Bokeem Woodbine [who played Mike Milligan].
“Sometimes people do amazing work and then when they handle Black people, it’s horrible,” Rock continued. “But with [Hawley], I saw how he handled Bokeem and I was like, ‘I can totally be in your hands.’” Although Chris Rock may have turned down the chance to appear on The Sopranos, there was one actor wasn’t even afforded that opportunity, despite reaching out personally. Alec Baldwin revealed earlier this month that he had volunteered his services for that fateful day when Tony Soprano would inevitably meet his maker, only to be met with silence.
Although The Sopranos may be over, we will soon be returning to that universe with The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel movie that will be set in the era of the Newark riots in the 60s and also feature Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late James Gandolfini, as a younger version of Tony Soprano. The film is slated to hit theaters and HBO Max on September 24, 2021.