Bruce Springsteen’s Band Member Steven Van Zandt Opens Up About His Relationship With the Icon: ‘Sometimes You Have to Bring the Bad News’

by Emily Morgan

Bruce Springsteen is undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest rock icons of an era, however, Steven Van Zandt was never afraid to speak his mind to The Boss. During a recent interview, the actor and former guitarist for Springsteen opened up about his relationship with the legend.

“Part of the obligation of being a best friend is that sometimes you have to bring the bad news, to express an opinion that they’re not going to like,” the former E Street band member said. “With success like Bruce had in the ’80s, you cannot help but lose perspective. You start thinking you’re a genius, the greatest thing in the world, and who’s gonna argue with you?”

Additionally, Steven Van Zandt didn’t know that spending time as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s band would help prepare him for a role, not on stage, but in front of a camera. 

As it turns out, the decades he spent on the roads with Springsteen actually helped him hone in his on-screen performance as Silvio Dante, Tony Sopranos’ childhood friend and consigliere from the hit HBO show, “The Sopranos.” 

Although his days of playing with Springsteen and filming new episodes of “Sopranos” are long gone, he still fondly recalls the memories. While speaking about his upcoming memoir, Unrequited Infatuations, due out Sept. 28, the guitarist said that he “could certainly draw on my relationship with Bruce” to play the role of Tony’s righthand man. 

Steven Van Zandt Drew On Relationship With Rocker For HBO Role

According to Van Zandt, where others might be more careful to call out Springsteen or characters like Tony, he was going to speak his mind. “I was the only guy who wasn’t scared of Bruce, so I could tell him what I thought,” he said about his experience with The Boss

In Vanity Fair’s 2012 oral history of “The Sopranos,” show creator David Chase revealed that he was a Bruce Springsteen fan and the E Street Band and saw Steven Van Zandt as Al Pacino in The Godfather

As Chase was casting for the “Sopranos,” he saw The Irishman actor speaking during a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and knew he wanted to cast him. “He was very, very funny and magnetic,” Chase said. “I said to my wife, ‘That guy has got to be in the show!'”

As for the one “Sopranos” scene Van Zandt hated to shoot, he admitted it was his character Silvio’s murder of Adriana La Cerva, the fiancée to Tony’s “nephew.” 

“I’ve got a serious problem with bullies in general. All the political stuff I’ve done has been about taking bullies down, so filming that for a few hours was not pleasant.”

“It wasn’t so much killing her that was the problem,” he added. “It was putting my hands around her neck and dragging her out of the car. But Drea de Matteo is such a great actor that she said, ‘If this is going to be my last scene, let’s make it real. Don’t go easy on me.’ As far as I was concerned, it was horrifying.”