Alongside The Godfatherand The Godfather: Part II, Goodfellas and The Sopranos are two of the best ever productions about the mob. Though it’s unique in its own way, The Sopranos borrows heavily from the three movies. Consigliere and Tony Soprano’s second-in-command, Silvio Dante, even quotes Michael Corleone on a number of occasions.
The Sopranos also borrows heavily from Goodfellas in the way mob wives and parents are written. The other thing it unapologetically borrows from Martin Scorsese’s magnum opus is the cast. Several actors appear in both productions, some in cameo roles and others as main characters.
Bracco portrayed Tony Soprano’s regular therapist. He was referred to her after he began getting panic attacks on a regular basis. Their sessions stretched through all the seasons and, in them, he opened up about everything, including his life of crimes.
A few years earlier Martin Scorsese had cast Bracco as a mob wife in the Wiseguy adaptation. Bracco played Karen Hill, the wife of young mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). Their marriage had all the elements of toxicity, but Karen opted to go against her mother’s wishes and stayed in the relationship.
Having been part of the supporting cast in Scorsese’s gangster flick, Imperioli got a more important role in the HBO series. In the latter, he portrayed Christopher Moltisanti, a young mobster who happened to Tony Soprano’s favorite subordinate.
In the former, he was Spider, a worker at a street gambling spot, who was frequently bullied and physically harmed by mobster Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). One day, he decided to stand up for himself but that proved to be a wrong move. Tommy saw it as a sign of disrespect and killed him.
In The Sopranos Sirico portrayed Paulie Walnuts. The DiMeo Crime Family member had the highest kill count in the series. He was the only mobster to not have a wife or girlfriend, preferring to remain single. Paulie is also remembered for coming up with some of the best one-liners.
However, Sirico’s role was much smaller in Goodfellas, where he played a flashy mobster named Tony Stacks. Sirico frequently drank and gambled with other mobsters but rarely said a word.
Scorsese cast Frank Vincent as Billy Batts, a mobster who got on the wrong side of Tommy DeVito. After coming out of jail, Batts was surprised to find out that DeVito has risen up the ranks. When he went in, DeVito was still shining shoes to make money. He thus made fun of DeVito to impress fellow mobsters, telling him to get his shoe-shining tools. His refusal to stop the jokes angered DeVito, who pistol-whipped him before killing him.
Vincent’s character in David Chase’s critically acclaimed series got out of jail too and also began making enemies of the wrong people. In the series, Vincent was Phil Leotardo, the boss of the Lupertazzi Crime Family. His cockiness made him go to war with Tony Soprano in the final season; a war he didn’t survive.
Bell has played plenty of villains in his career, including the serial killer Jigsaw in the Saw franchise. He appeared briefly in Goodfellas as a parole officer to a Lucchese street soldier, who had been released from jail.
Major Carl Zwingli was the role he took in The Sopranos. He was the head of a military school, where Tony and Carmela approached him to try and get their stubborn son AJ enrolled in the army. After hearing about the rules and regulations of the school, Carmela changed her mind about enrolling AJ, though Tony still believed it was a good idea.
Pastor’s performance as the FBI informant Salvatore Bonpensiero in the HBO series is hard to forget. Though the character got whacked at the end of season 2, he left a lasting legacy. Pastore would appear in later seasons where his character showed up in Tony’s dreams.
His role in the Oscar-nominated 1990 film was more of a “blink and you’ll miss it” one. He was seen arranging stolen coats for the mobsters before walking away. Given his close proximity to the mobsters, it should be presumed that he was a street soldier in one of the crime families.
Shepherd got to play the mother of the main character in both productions. In Goodfellas, she was the mother of Karen Hill. She didn’t like how her gangster husband, Henry Hill, was treating her so she kept advising her to leave him. Though she loved her mother, Karen wouldn’t listen.
The actor had a supporting role in The Sopranos as well. She was Carmela’s mother Mary. Though she appeared to be as controlling towards her husband Hugh, she was very nice to her daughter Carmela and even supported her during her separation from Tony, advising her to not invite him to Hugh’s birthday party.
The late Albanese has several mob movie credits to his name, having appeared in both The Godfather as an assassin and The Godfather: Part III as a grand marshal. He was seen in the courthouse in Goodfellas as Henry Hill’s lawyer after the mobster was caught up in a case.
In season 5 of The Sopranos, Albanese had a guest role as Tony’s uncle and Junior’s brother Pat Blundetto. He was seeking to sell his farm so Tony tasked Christopher with removing all the dead bodies that had been buried there.
Like Albanese, the late Lip was also a gangster movie veteran, having appeared in 10 films that followed the same genre, including The Godfather. His biggest role was that of the first Lupertazzi Crime Family boss, Carmine Lupertazzi, in The Sopranos. Carmine never consulted his juniors and as a result, his second-in-command Johnny Sack planned to kill him. However, he ended up dying of an illness before that could happen.
Martin Scorsese had also cast him in his iconic gangster flick as Lucchese Crime Family street soldier Franceso Manzo. The character was responsible for handling mob cargo at JFK as well as overseeing heists of valuable goods.
In Scorsese’s classic gangster flick, Darrow portrayed Sonny, the owner of the Bamboo Lounge. The bar and restaurant was frequented by members of the Lucchese Crime Family.
In the Emmy-winning series, he was the DiMeo Crime Family capo Larry Barese. He was one of the few mobsters in the series that were never seen killing someone. He was also revealed to be an FBI informant later in the series. Despite mingling with the feds, Larry was never discovered and killed.