Terence Winter is no stranger to strong women. The son of a Brooklyn widow, this auto mechanic, turned lawyer, turned multi-Emmy winning writer, producer and director, is also responsible in part for Xena: Warrior Princess, and Sister, Sister. He also created (and yes, in one case killed off) Dr. Melfi, Adriana, and Carmela on the Sopranos. Ironically, in Brooklyn Rules, his latest theatrical release, it is Ellen, a slim but pivotal role played by Mena Suvari, who keeps his alter-ego character from becoming a mobster in the first place.
Yes, Brooklyn Rules is semi-autobiographical, Winter readily acknowledges. And, like Freddie Prinze Jrs Michael, he, too, conned his way into a prestigious New York University pre-law program, wanting a better future, but not wanting to leave his buddies behind.
Now,at his LA home, enjoying the hubbub of his and his girlfriends brand new baby boy, Terry admits he learned a lot growing up on the colorful streets of Brooklyns Marine Park neighborhood. But, he insists, only by osmosis. You stand around on the streets there, you pick up things.
While he is enormously proud to also witness the screen-birth of his long-in-the-making independent film (Winters script, written in 1999, had been attached to several big names, including Johnny Depp and Griffin Dunne before finally winding up in the hands of director Michael Corrente and City Lights Pictures), he is, simultaneously wrapping his most notorious project, HBOs, The Sopranos.
Clearly, this is a bittersweet time both for those whove created the series and those of us who love it. And, no, Winter wouldnt spill the beans about the much anticipated final episode, except to say David Chase is writing, directing and doing a great job, cognizant of the fact that they all have a big responsibility to end it right.”
Some of us cant resist the interpersonal dramas of Tony and his peeps, yet, Terry notes, it makes him and his fellow executive producers crazy when fans complain nothing happened if no one gets wacked in an episode. Apparently, if you want violence, Winters your guy. You name the act of violence, Ive written it, he laughs ruefully. How does the writer live with his poison pen? Its not easy.
When Paulie killed the stripper, that got to me. You take yourself to an ugly place, write it and let it go. Except, it seems, when it came to killing off one of the shows most beloved characters, Adriana.
We made a promise amongst ourselves at the beginning of the show that we would never keep a character alive because we liked the actor. And I love Drea (de Matteo). And there was only one option what to do with her. And then, I just didnt want to see it. So I found myself writing her, crawling out of camera range when she gets shot. So now, all sorts of people say all sorts of stuff about her being alive, she didnt get shot, when I just wrote that she gets shot off camera because I didnt want to see it!
When I commented on the remarkable depth to the creation of many of the Soprano female characters, Terry offered an insider view of their deals with the devil.” Adriana, of course, was intentionally perceived as glamorous, but even the theoretical voice of reason, Dr. Melfi, has mixed feelings about Tony and what he offers her. Remember, she tells him, if you commit a crime, I should report it to the police. Technically. And then theres Carmela, the bosss wife, who pays lip service to her horror, but never really leaves. She went through all that stuff with the religion, but she can be bought off easily.
These women have to be tough, I say.
They have to be tougher to walk away, Winter responds, summing up exactly what makes these women as compelling as the men they love.