The instant classic that is last season’s “Pine Barrens” episode of “The Sopranos” came to Tim Van Patten in a dream.
“I saw those two guys lost in the Pine Barrens (Paulie Walnuts, played by Tony Sirico, and Christopher Moltisanti, played by Michael Imperioli), which my father used to take us to explore as kids. It’s a very foreboding place, full of mystery and lore,” he says. “I had the dream and thought, ‘Gee, what a funny story it would be to see those two like fish out of water in the woods.'”
Van Patten mentioned the dream to writer Terence Winter, who pitched it to an appreciative David Chase. Winter wrote the script based on Van Patten’s story idea, resulting in an Emmy nomination for both – a first for Van Patten, who nabbed a second mention for directing another episode of the “Sopranos” (“Amour Fou”).
“These scripts and the cast that does them make any director look good,” says the native New Yorker, who had no expectations of getting an Emmy nomination, yet alone two.
“I didn’t even know they were announcing them,” he adds. “My agent said congratulations and I said, ‘For what?’ It was a pleasant surprise.”
Van Patten, half-brother to actors Dick and Joyce Van Patten, began his career as an actor, appearing as a series regular on “The White Shadow,” from 1978 to 1981, among other roles.
“I did a lot of TV and quite a few bad movies and ended up directing when I saw no future for myself as an actor,” he says.
Van Patten will soon direct an episode of the new Fox drama “Emma Brody” in London, and looks forward to work on the “Sopranos” next season.
“I feel extremely lucky to be on that show,” he adds.