UTA partner Peter Benedek made the HBO deal that launched client David Chase’s signature series, and he got to leave a small mark onscreen by appearing in the penultimate episode of “The Sopranos.”
Benedek played a guest at a dinner party who, after making a crude anti-Italian joke, prods Dr. Melfi to drop Tony Soprano as a client on the grounds he’s a sociopath who’ll never change.
Chase has wanted to put Benedek in an episode for two years, but he made his agent work for it. He auditioned and was shot down two previous times, once to play a lawyer who gave Carmela Soprano divorce advice and more recently to play a Las Vegas handler.
“Twice I failed on merit and thought it was over for me,” said Benedek. “It was fun to shoot that scene, but you could feel the sadness because everyone who’d worked on that show (for) so many years was dealing with closure. I was grateful to Peter Bogdanovich, Lorraine Bracco and others who were respectful while David’s agent was getting lines.”
It was Benedek’s second shrink stint, after Joel and Ethan Coen cast him as a prison psychiatrist in “Raising Arizona.”
“Prison psychiatry seems to be my screen stereotype, but this was my opportunity to put my initials on the tree,” Benedek said.