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The Real Reason Drea De Matteo Almost Didn't Get Cast In The Sopranos

Over the course of her lengthy career in television, Drea de Matteo has portrayed several fierce females. These include the ex-wife of Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) on FX's "Sons of Anarchy," veteran cop Tess Nazario on NBC's "Shades of Blue," and, most recently, music industry executive Maya on the Prime Video series "Paradise City."

However, fans of HBO's "The Sopranos" still know her best as Adriana La Cerva, the fiancé of made man Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) who sadly meets a deadly fate partway through the series. Despite Christopher's physical and emotional abuse of Adriana, she sticks by her partner and always tries to see the best in him. But when she's blackmailed by the FBI and thinks he'll understand her predicament, he immediately informs Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), who sends Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) to kill her.

After all these years, it's hard to imagine anyone other than de Matteo portraying the animal print-wearing, music-loving character. Who else can say, "Chris-ta-fuh" quite like her? Yet in the early stages of the series, de Matteo's role originally looked quite different.

Sopranos creator David Chase didn't think she was Italian enough

When casting for the pilot was underway, Drea de Matteo auditioned for the role of Adriana, but surprisingly enough, "The Sopranos" creator David Chase didn't think she was a good fit (via Vanity Fair). "He was like, 'You don't look Italian. You look like a hostess of a restaurant,'" de Matteo said.

In the pilot, which aired in January 1999, de Matteo can actually be seen as an unnamed hostess at Vesuvio's, the main restaurant hangout of Tony and friends, owned by Artie Bucco (John Ventimiglia) and his wife, Charmaine (Kathrine Narducci).

When "The Sopranos" got picked up and de Matteo was invited back to audition for Adriana, she had a game plan to better look the part. "I wore my nameplate in diamonds. I teased my hair up a little bit. One of the words in the line was, 'Ow,' and the reason I got the part was because the way I said, "Owwuhwhwwwuhwwwuh!" I turned it into, like, five syllables," she said.

Though Adriana continues to work at Vesuvio's until Christopher becomes a made man, she has much more depth as a character beyond the pilot, making her death one of the saddest in the entire series for viewers, cast members, and show creators alike. "I had written some of the most horrific, graphic violence on the show," said writer Terence Winter (via Vanity Fair). "But for some reason, I didn't want to see her get shot."