Soprano Sue's Sightings
 

 

 

Ariel Kiley

 

How did you find out you’d gotten the role on the Sopranos?

After my fourth audition on a Friday evening with the producers, director, David Chase, and the casting director they told me to go change out of my vinyl stripper outfit and fishnets I’d wore for the audition into my street clothes and wait downstairs. A P.A. came and took me to the make-up trailer, on the way I asked if that meant I had the job and she laughed at me and said “yes”. 

How has working on the Sopranos altered your life?

My role on the Sopranos was my first acting job so it gave me both a lot of confidence and made me more aware of how I have to learn as an actor.   At the time of shooting, I was strongly affected by playing that role.   Professionally, it has helped define the kind of work I want to do. I like films that make viewers uncomfortable with the truths about human nature that they expose. The good thing about Sopranos is that it doesn’t place judgment on its own characters, there is no right and wrong which drives the audience crazy as they alternately loath and are drawn to the show.

Favorite Sopranos Memory?

Instead of waiting in my trailer, when I wasn’t in a scene I’d go to the set and watch. Sitting in the dim part of the studio observing the other actors taught me so much.

Do you have any similarities to your character Tracee?

Tracee and I both act very instinctively. What I love about her is that she takes Ralphie’s insecurities and shoves them in his face regardless of the possible consequences. She doesn’t shut up and cover for him. There have been many instances in my life when I follow my instincts as opposed to taking the safer route (leaving home early, quitting college, wearing a G-string on Television before 8 million people, etc.). I’d rather live a more interesting, controversial life than be quiet and still do what is expected of me.

A lot of people have referred to Tracee as “stupid”, but she isn’t, she just isn’t an upper class kid who’s led a privileged life, always programmed into calculating the best results of her actions. She is in survival mode, trying to build a home for herself and her son the only way she knows how.

What made you become an actor?

I’m kind of a hopeless wanderer. This is a profession where you don’t have to commit to anything for very long and you meet tons of people who never cease to surprise you. I never did high school theatre, once I auditioned for “Romeo and Juliet” and didn’t even get a part in the crowd. Since then I’ve harbored annoyed resentment born of rejection at all high school theatre.   On a whim I auditioned for Tisch, the NYU drama program and got in. I went there for a year when I was 18 before quitting with the realization that it is a very expensive degree for a profession where fine-tuning your technique isn’t always the best technique. Two months after leaving I booked the Sopranos and that jump-started my acting career.   I Love it all, I love auditioning, I love not getting parts, I love not knowing what I’ll be doing in a month, I love all the excitement around this job and how much it forces me to grow up and take care of myself. It alternately tears me down and gives me highs beyond anything I’ve known. I think many people stake too much value on an inflated idea of happiness.

What role would you most want to play?

Every time I meet a person who shocks me with their individuality I want to play them. It’s always changing.

What is in your future?

A subway ride to the bookstore where I’m trying to finish John Cassavetes’ biography without actually buying it. I’m in the process of shooting an independent feature that is kind of dark, coming age of comedy. 

Did you ever get your braces removed?

There were two sets of teeth designed for Tracee. I had to go out to this dentist in Jersey several times, he was a sweetheart. One set he made was just really crooked teeth that fit over mine and the other had cosmetic braces over a set of crooked teeth. People rarely recognize me from the episode because the fake teeth changed the shape of my mouth and made my face looked different.

Did you use a stunt double

Joey and I each had a stunt double for the beating scene but we didn’t use them. After a couple of takes we got so into it that we improved the whole fight. It was such a sad scene, it was late at night and eerie under a couple of streetlights with the highway whizzing by. I don’t even remember seeing the crew around and I couldn’t talk to Joey between takes I was so disturbed.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you

I’m from Northern Vermont, grew up snowboarding and catalog shopping in L.L. Bean for things like sheepskin slippers. The casting director wasn’t going to give me a callback because she thought I was middle class New England yuppie (that’s my blunt interpretation) and would never be able to take my clothes off on TV. I said “it wasn’t me taking my clothes off, it was Tracee”.

 

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