David Chase never had to deal with Twitter during his tenure as show runner of "The Sopranos." It's a good thing, too, since one only needs to look at the online response to this season of "Homeland" to see how polarizing dramas are received on the social media site; imagine what it would have been like when "The Sopranos" series finale cut to black.
For his sake, Chase doesn't have to concern himself with such things at the moment (though his friend, "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner, still does): The 67-year-old writer-director is back with "Not Fade Away," his first project following a six-year hiatus after the end of "The Sopranos." The indie drama focuses on a young man (John Magaro) growing up in the 1960s with hopes of becoming a rock star, no matter what his conservative father (James Gandolfini) thinks. HuffPost Entertainment spoke with Chase about "Not Fade Away" (his feature directorial debut), the explosion of social media and why he may stop writing brash Italian mothers.
When did you decide to write this?
During and after "The Sopranos," honestly. I talked about it in the writers room with the other writers. People talk about their future projects and what they're thinking about. I would bring this one up.
Did you run into people who only wanted you to write something like "The Sopranos"?
No. My friends all said they thought I'd be better off doing something like -- whatever you want to call it, whatever this is -- "No Country for Old Men." A thriller. A crime story. Something like that. I did want to do that -- I didn't want to do anything like "No Country for Old Men," but I did want to do [a thriller]. But I wasn't happy with the ideas I was coming up with. I wanted to get busy making a movie. I had this other thing. I thought, "Well, coming off 'The Sopranos,' I've got a certain amount of capital stored up and this one will be kind of a hard sell. So, we'll try this one."
Was there a difference for you from directing the pilot and finale of "The Sopranos" to this?
For me it was just different on the stamina level. The movie just goes on and on. Week after week after week of shooting. [It was] 50 days. "The Sopranos," we were kind of profligate, but it was still a lot shorter. An hour of "The Sopranos" was typically 12 days.
James Gandolfini is always good, but he seems even better when he's speaking your dialogue. What's the key to writing for him?
What he would tell you, I think, is that he sees the humor in my writing. He finds it funny. He sees that a lot of it is ghastly and painful, but there is a humor underneath that he gets. I guess I would say the same thing about him. I see the humor in him. Even when he's angry and frightening in a role, there's something absurd about him. [Laughs]
You also write the best Italian mothers, and "Not Fade Away" is no exception.
I think I'm going to knock off the Italian mother thing. Unless I have some beautiful Italian mother. Some Madonna-type.
Was casting Molly Price in this role hard?
It was difficult. Livia on "The Sopranos" was really tough. Molly really got this and more people seemed to get this. Back in the day when we were casting "The Sopranos," we must have looked at 200 or 300 actresses. They came in and did their crazy Italian mother thing and it was just all over the place. It wasn't that character.
One of the things I appreciate about "Not Fade Away" is the way it handles the 60s. It has a kind of level-headedness, where history happens, but not in an all-encompassing way.
The way I look at it is 500,000 guys went to Vietnam. When you put that up against the population of the United States, let alone the world, it's a real minority. Probably Less than 500,000 went to a Vietnam War protest. Probably less than that went to Woodstock. Not everybody had a tie-dye t-shirt. A minority of people dropped acid. So, why do we see that stuff all the time?
Music is such a big part of this film. In The New York Times, Steve Van Zandt said he didn't think music could ever have the impact now that it did in the 1960s. Do you agree?
I think what Steven was saying is that there was really only one outlet. TV was there, but it was sort of the domain of corporate America and advertising. So was radio, but it all came from radio. TV was part of your family life. You watch TV and your parents and brothers and sisters were there. Radio was you and your friends or you by yourself. It's the closest thing to a computer, I guess, and you were free to draw your own images in your head and your own conclusions. That's what connected us all: radio.
Now we're connected by Twitter and social media. That wasn't around during the "The Sopranos." Do you think it's harder now be creative and let the work speak for itself?
It's impossible. When people spend hours ranking the best poster or reviewing trailers. You know? What are you supposed to do?
Everyone has an immediate reaction now. Does that make you not want to do stuff?
Yes, sometimes you just think to yourself, "What's the sense?" Everybody seems so pissed off all the time and ready to dump. Sometimes you think, "Why am I bothering with this?" They come ready.
They have their knives out.
Knives out, yeah.
You didn't really experience that with "The Sopranos."
It was starting to happen. Every Monday. But there wasn't Twitter and there wasn't Facebook. There was online commentary, which was just starting then. Salon used to have this thing where they critiqued every episode of "The Sopranos" on Monday. I thought, "Jesus Christ." I had no idea what was coming. My friends who are doing TV, Matt Weiner and people like that, it's a real problem. You've got to live in a bubble. Otherwise, it influences you. It gets into your head like a cockroach.
You haven't always given a lot of interviews -- especially after "The Sopranos" ended. Do you enjoy doing this?
This is my first time doing it [for a film] and I'm amazed at the amount of it there is. I've been doing this for two months. I can't believe it. The movie is going to be gone, forgotten, in less time than that. Any movie! You know what I mean? All this build up and build up and talk and talk. These studios and film companies have their work cut out for them -- it's a tough gig. But it's always been this way for film and movies. This, what we're doing now, goes way back.
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