Drea de Matteo On Working On ‘Joey’: ‘I Was Really Unhappy About It’

She might not be a Hollywood A-lister yet, but every fan knows Drea de Matteo is one hell of an actress. Drea is most popular for playing the dynamic Adriana La Cerva, the loyal and ambitious wife of Tony Soprano’s protege, Christopher Moltisanti. Matteo played the role so well that she was able to bag the Emmy for best supporting actress in 2004.

Drea’s role in The Sopranos was so well-played that we often forget the less-than-stellar roles she had in other TV projects. Everyone remember Joey? That horrid little spin-off of its superior predecessor Friends? It was a promising show that ran alongside The Sopranos, which was supposed to follow Joey Tribianni’s life as he leaves New York and starts his acting career in Hollywood. Sadly, due to bad writing and other production factors, Joey got booted after two seasons, and fans of its mother sitcom were actually happy to see it go. Apparently, it was so bad that Matt LeBlanc allegedly refuses to answer anything about the disgraced project. If you want more proof of how bad it was, here is a clip from the show.

And yes, Drea de Matteo had a supporting role in this TV show. Playing Tribianni’s sister Gina, de Matteo thought this role will be her fresh break from drama and a way to introduce herself into comedy. Sadly, things didn’t work out for Drea, comedy-wise, and continued to purse dramatic roles, which turned out really well for her. When asked about her experiences working on Joey in a recent Reddit forum, de Matteo recalled her experiences working alongside Matt and playing a major role in one of the most critically panned TV sitcoms of the last decade.

“If you would have asked me 9 or 10 years ago, i was really unhappy about it. I took the plunge to be on a comedy like that and to take my character of Adriana and sort of turn her into a caricature for comedy’s sake, and there was so much pressure on the show at that time because of FRIENDS having ended and Sopranos having ended, i guess we were the two biggest shows at that time, and now you have the 2 working class Italians in a show together, and the pressure was through the roof, and I had never lived in California before, and my life just felt like it was turned upside down.

“More than anything else, the pressure of telling jokes and comedy, I think I finally understood at that point why a lot of comedians were super depressed or committed suicide because you have to turn it on no matter how you are feeling – my great dane was dying in my dressing room the entire time we were shooting, i was giving him chemo, in Jennifer Aniston’s old dressing room, and here I am supposed to be challenging the comedy of these performances, and then I’m crying over my 200 pound dog shitting all over the place, and then I had to run out there with 500 people in the audience jokes that were being rewritten constantly. Doing all that stuff, I was dying in the inside the whole time, I was like “Jesus christ, I wanted to get away to do comedy” – I was excited to come out there and have some fun at the time…

“So at that time I was unhappy being there, and we were all complaining so much about the quality of the show, and our ratings weren’t high enough, and all these things I’d never paid attention before being on cable tv. But when I look back, Matt and I had so much fucking fun – Andrea and Paolo and the crew, the parties that would happen that would lead us up to the top of the building every friday night, we had so much goddamn fun but at the time we all thought it was a big failure and miserable.

“But because the ratings were so high for FRIENDS, we had 13 million in ratings and that seemed like a failure by comparison. But now, even on episodes where there was 9 million, we felt like were in the toilet, but if you check out ratings now, those numbers are SCORES for a sitcom. The times have changed so much and the pressure is not as great as it was, I think. So looking back on it, if I had it to do all over again, I would have been more happy where I was at, and less concerned about being stereotyped – I was a little too precious as an actor, but I was afraid to never work again, because if you play any kind of NY, NJ accented character, it’s hard to break free from that, so I think I was too nervous, and if I were doing it now, I would have embraced it wholeheartedly and had a blast.

“So I regret having been a squeaky wheel at that time.”

Drea de Matteo currently plays Wendy Case on the hit FX series Sons of Anarchy.

[Image from Gage Skidmore/Flickr]