Gandolfini appears in practically every scene and, as a result, often works shooting days that run fourteen, sixteen hours. Like certain athletes, he psychs himself into concentration through a weird verbal violence: a shout, a snort, a nasty, self-directed epithet. When he blows a scene, his reaction can be volcanic.
Bracco was as lighthearted as Gandolfini was fierce. This was her last scene of the season. It began with Tony expressing his concern for a friend of the family, Jackie Aprile, Jr.
"Twenty-two years old, living in a housing project. Can you imagine the shame for the family?" All the while, Gandolfini is twitching, scratching his earlobe, working out a crick in his neck, wincing, every gesture another betrayal of anxiety and dread.
"In the end," Tony says, "I failed him." He shrugs, shrugs magnificently. "What the fuck you gonna do?" This is Tony's customary reaction to death, to disaster: his defense mechanism. "What the fuck you gonna do in this world today?"
And then Lorraine Bracco lets rip with a whoopee cushion that she sneaked onto the set. Gandolfini, it can be fairly said, loses his concentration.
"Next line!" he barks.
Again with the whoopee cushion.
Now Bracco and Gandolfini are laughing.
Chase leans over and whispers, "It's the last week of school."
Bracco has pulled such stunts before. Not long ago, in another therapy scene, she stuck hair extensions under her skirt, and, just as Gandolfini was delivering a line, she crossed her legs, a parody of Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct."