Steven Van Zandt’s Sopranos Role Could Have Been Cut Short By Bruce Springsteen

Let’s get our timelines in order. The E Street Band was formed in 1972 and stayed together until 1989. They briefly reunited in 1995 but only returned full-time in 1999. (If you want the full story of the band, I can’t recommend Springsteen’s autobiography — titled, what else, “Born to Run” — highly enough.)

“The Sopranos” season 1 also premiered in 1999 and it was a hit. HBO wasted no time in ordering a second season, which would debut a year after the first almost to the date. However, while “The Sopranos” was picking up steam, the E Street band was planning a comeback. Their reunion tour kicked off in April 1999, a mere five days after “The Sopranos” season 1 finale.

Van Zandt explained the bind this left him in: “I really, really had to consider, should I go back into the band or not, because I really thought, ‘Okay, this acting thing is going to be my future. I’m completely into it. I want to evolve into writing for TV, directing TV.’ I just fell in love with the whole process. And it was a very, very, very hard decision for me to go back to the E Street Band. But I felt I needed closure there.”

In the end, Van Zandt didn’t have to make a decision — David Chase was able to schedule his shooting days around the E Street Band’s touring schedule. Van Zandt is still not sure if he made the right decision or not, as he would’ve liked to be more involved in “The Sopranos,” preferably getting to write or direct. For what it’s worth, he got that chance on Netflix’s “Lilyhammer” — and he’s still touring with the E Street Band.

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