What is it about this girls writing that sets her apart? What makes this particular story special?
It was the first play Id ever done. We turned it into a screenplay. I sat on her while she turned it into a screenplay. Im not letting you move until you turn it into a screenplay. Its sort of set in the way that Smoke was set. Its a pharmacy where a bunch of very broken people hang out. Its about two twins and one of the twins it opens where one of the twins had just died, and they both have muscular dystrophy. And its progressing in the one whos alive. It just kind of all these different characters are there. One of the guys is autistic.
It sounds insanely dramatic, but its not. It happens to be really, really funny but at the same time very tragic, and then hopeful also at the end. Its really kind of a romance between my character and the boy with muscular dystrophy. And shes a drug addict.
Youre going to direct and act in it?
Yeah. Were going to direct it together because Im in it so much. Shes never directed so were going to do it together. Its going to be fun. (Laughing) And then I wont have to act anymore. I can just act in my own projects and I wont be talking like this [lays on the heavy Queens accent] in any of them, unless theyre really great like The Sopranos.
What is your background?
Im Italian. Italian-American. I was born in Queens, which I hammed up to the nth degree when I started Sopranos because I really wanted it to be truthful. I didnt want anybody to think I was faking an accent because the accents so huge, you know? I grew up on the Upper East Side.
How big a difference is it working on a sitcom from working on a drama like The Sopranos?
Its night and day. Its a whole different thing. I did it sort of because it was a huge challenge for me. The only thing that I could bring to the party was that Id done a lot of theatre, and its very much like doing theatre. I think that when people watch sitcoms they say and think that this is the mediocre actors who are doing this. This is not the real acting. Jesus Christ, it might be more real than anything there is. Its the most difficult thing there is to do.
People who are doing sitcoms deserve the most respect. I understand why they get a million dollars an episode, because they work you to the bone. And having to make people laugh is probably 10 times harder than ever having to make anybody cry. Its definitely very intense and youre onstage. Its theatre. Youre a comedian and youre there to entertain people for seven hours in that audience. So its very hard and I have a lot of respect for people who have been doing it for a long time.
Do you enjoy doing comedy?
Im learning how to do comedy right now. Its all a learning process for me. I enjoy learning but more than anything, I have so much fun with Matt LeBlanc that whether I love it or not really makes no difference to me because I just really have that much fun with him and playing with him. Being onstage with him is great. We all have a lot of fun together.