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Why Wendy Case From Sons Of Anarchy Looks So Familiar

FX's "Sons of Anarchy" was a drama series that fit perfectly amongst the gritty and dark serialized shows of the 2000s and 2010s. Exploring the trials and tribulations of an illegal California motorcycle club with a dysfunctional way of mixing business with family, the program became known for its compelling story arcs, incendiary acting, and unpredictable explosions of violence. Across seven blood-filled seasons of pause-worthy significance, tragedy, depravity, loving bonds, and toxic relationships, Kurt Sutter's series continued FX's deep dive into mature storytelling following its hit series "The Shield." But it's the cast that still stands out all these years after the show ended. 

Speaking about Season 1 back in 2008, The New York Post's Linda Stasi said, "The casting is the best since 'The Sopranos' and every cast member is perfect. Every character is unique. Yes, I love this show" (via Rotten Tomatoes). Led by British actor Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller, the acclaimed group of performers also includes Katey Sagal (Gemma Teller Morrow), Ron Perlman (Clay Morrow), Mark Boone Junior (Bobby Elvis Munson), Kim Coates (Tig Trager), Theo Rossi (Juice Ortiz), and Maggie Siff (Dr. Tara Knowles). Each of these actors created dynamic personalities we could root for, question, and despise — sometimes all at the same time. 

The character of Wendy Case fits this description perfectly thanks to the work of an actor who may look familiar to you. Here are some of her other memorable roles.

Drea de Matteo's supporting role on The Sopranos won her an Emmy

Wendy Case, Jax's troubled ex-wife on "Sons of Anarchy," is played by American actor Drea de Matteo. She found success early in her career thanks to her role as Adriana La Cerva on HBO's revolutionary drama series "The Sopranos." Although Adriana's dynamic with Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) is charming and loving most of the time, the relationship eventually deteriorates into verbal, emotional, and deeply disturbing domestic abuse due to Christopher's sociopathic tendencies. De Matteo's compelling work on the serialized drama eventually paid off when she won the 2004 Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series.

La Cerva eventually becomes an FBI Informant, which she admits to Christopher, who tells mafia boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), which eventually leads to her murder at the hands of Silvio (Steven Van Zandt). Although Adriana's death occurs off-screen, the sheer discomfort of watching the narrative play out is still memorable to this day. In a 2014 interview with Vulture, when asked about her character's shocking demise, de Matteo shared, "It was upsetting to the fans, and it was just as upsetting to me. It really, truly is sad when it's over, man. To not have that regularness, that familiarity. I love working in television because of that. It's like going to see your family every day." 

But for the Emmy winner, another TV role was right around the corner.

She played Joey Tribbiani's sister Gina on the Friends spin-off Joey

While starring on "The Sopranos," Drea de Matteo frequently appeared in supporting roles in films including "Swordfish," "Deuces Wild," and "Prey for Rock & Roll." After Adriana's death in Season 5 of the HBO drama, the actor took on the co-leading part of Gina Tribbiani, the elder sister of "Friends" character Joey Tribbiani (Matt Le Blanc), in the spin-off sitcom "Joey." The NBC comedy was a chance for the network to keep the "Friends" magic alive after the show's end in May 2004. However, "Joey" only lasted for a total of two seasons and 46 episodes before being canceled in 2006.

In a 2021 interview with NME, de Matteo expressed mixed feelings about taking on a role that felt like a comedic imitation of her character from "The Sopranos." The publication asked de Matteo if she regretted doing "Joey," to which she replied, "Looking back, I think: 'Silly girl, you had a talent for that. You should have maximised on that accent, being from Queens, being a New Yorker.' But instead I wanted to work against it and it didn't work in my favour." She concluded by observing how audiences typically expect to see certain performance characteristics from some actors. 

Her next prominent performance would allow her to embrace this talent along with the rest of the wives of Wisteria Lane.

In Season 6 of Desperate Housewives, de Matteo starred as Angie Bolen

At the same time Drea de Matteo was appearing as Wendy Case on "Sons of Anarchy," the actor also co-starred on Marc Cherry's darkly funny, satirical primetime soap opera "Desperate Housewives." She played Angie Bolen in Season 6, who, like Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard) in Season 2, was more outspoken and honest in all her interactions and encounters. This didn't sit well with some viewers, as noted in a Today article from the time of the show's airing. 

For Drea de Matteo, her experience on the series sounds like it was a bit of a mixed bag. When asked what it was like working with the cast of "Desperate Housewives" by Interview Celebrity in 2014, the actor candidly shared that joining the already long-running series was nerve-wracking and that she didn't think her outsider personality quite meshed with the mega-hit show. She stated, "But on DESPERATE, I felt like I wasn't what Mark [sic] was looking for, I don't think my performances were big enough, we just didn't really know who she was going to be ..." She finished her thoughts by stating she became good friends with a lot of the program's crew. 

She would soon return to crime drama television, but on the flip side of the law compared to "The Sopranos."

She was part of the main cast of NBC's crime drama Shades of Blue

From 2016-2019, Drea de Matteo starred in NBC's corrupt cop procedural drama "Shades of Blue," which featured Jennifer Lopez (Detective Harlee Santos) and Ray Liotta (Lieutenant Matt Wozniak) in leading roles. De Matteo was featured as Detective Tess Nazario, an investigator on Wozniak's team who grapples with her moral conscience, as well as personal problems, throughout the show's three-season run. Although the program only lasted for 36 episodes and could never quite match the intensity allowed in the cable or streaming worlds, the police drama was praised in spite of its sometimes outlandish plots. Decider's Kat George said the series "is a show about tough, non-conformist women–a majority of those being women of color."

Although her character frequently dealt with numerous troubles during the show, de Matteo seemed to enjoy bringing the complicated detective to life. She told Parade in 2017, "My number one favorite aspect is that it brought me back to New York. There is nothing like working in my hometown. I'm going to miss getting to play with Hampton, Dayo, Vincent, Ray, Jen, and the entire crew of Shades of Blue over the hiatus. We have so much fun every day." She would share the similar sentiments regarding her next major performance.

She stars as Maya on Amazon Prime Video's Paradise City

In 2019, Drea de Matteo joined the cast of the musical drama series "Paradise City," which was acquired by Amazon Prime Video and aired its 1st season in 2021. The show has gone on to become noteworthy since it contains the final performance of Cameron Boyce, who tragically passed away in July 2019 at the age of 20. In September 2021, the show's official Instagram account announced that "Paradise City" had been renewed for Season 2.

Starring as Maya, a witty and incredibly wise booking agent, de Matteo adds comic flair and her own love of music to the character. Speaking to Miami Living Magazine about the series, she also revealed how Maya has some common characteristics with Adriana from "The Sopranos." The actor shared, "What if Adriana would have lived and become the music manager she always wanted to become? Well, instead of becoming a music manager, she becomes a booker. Adriana could have become Maya." All roads lead back to the doomed, yet unforgettable, Adriana La Cerva.