David Chase was a longtime fan of Steven Van Zandt's music and had always wanted to write a role for him. When Chase saw Van Zandt induct 'The Young Rascals' into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he invited Van Zandt to audition for Tony Soprano even though he had never acted before. Van Zandt did not want to take a role away from a real actor, so Chase wrote the role of Silvio Dante for him.
Before David Chase chose "Woke Up This Morning" by UK band Alabama 3 (from their 1997 debut album "Exile on Coldharbour Lane"), he originally wanted to use a different song in every episode's opening sequence. HBO executives convinced him that viewers needed to be able to identify the show with a theme song.
Michael Rispoli originally auditioned for the role of Tony, but David Chase liked Rispoli's audition so much that he adjusted the role of Jackie Aprile Sr., originally a much older character, to fit Rispoli's age.
Lorraine Bracco was originally asked to play the role of Carmela Soprano, but she felt that the part was too similar to her character in Goodfellas. She decided the role of Dr. Melfi would be more challenging.
David Chase had planned a major story line for the third season concerning Tony's efforts to prevent Livia from testifying against him in court. But Nancy Marchand's death caused Chase to revise a large portion of the season.
HBO was worried that the title of the series would make the audience think it was about music. That is why the gun image is in the title logo. The network also considered other titles for the show such as "Made in New Jersey".
In Season 5 a story about Feech La Manna was told, concerning his killing a New Jersey longshoreman for refusing to give up his favorite seat in a bar. This story was based on a true-life incident involving former Philadelphia/Atlantic City crime boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo.
Many local New Jersey businesses are used as locations in the series. In the opening credits, we see a shot of a pizza shack known as Pizza Land. They get calls for pizza orders from all over the country as a result. In one episode, an actual sporting goods store was portrayed as going out of business. So many people thought the real store was closing, the store owners had to place ads to explain they were still open!
Drea de Matteo had to spend four hours in hair and makeup before shooting each episode in order to achieve her "mob girl" look. It took two hours to prepare her hair, and in the instances in which her arms, legs, and/or torso were uncovered, an hour and a half to apply makeup to cover her tattoos.
Joseph R. Gannascoli (Vito Spatafore) was originally cast in season one cameo as Gino the bakery customer, when Christopher shot the worker in the foot. He was then recast as Vito Spatafore in season two and continued in the role until the end of season six, part one.
In Season 5, the race track they go to is actually Riverhead Raceway in Riverhead, Long Island. In the episode it was sold, but in real life it wasn't. So many people called the track wanting to know if it had been sold that the owners had to put a sign up saying that they hadn't sold.
During several episodes a high-pitched squealing sound can be heard in some outdoor scenes. That is the sound of the Elevated #7 train going around a turn one block from the studio where the indoor and some outdoor scenes are filmed in Queens, NY.
Ray Liotta was the top choice to play Tony Soprano but he turned it down stating he did not want to commit to a television series. Later, Liotta was in talks to play Ralph Cifaretto but turned it down as well.
In the Sixth Season, Part 2 the word "fuck" is said 306 times. Tony (110), Sil (6), Paulie (38), Christopher (17), Carmela (5), Others (130). This makes the total of 3539, Tony (1152), Sil (112), Paulie (226), Christopher (425), Carmela (52), Others (1537). In the whole series Tony cheats on Carmela on screen with 11 women.