December 8, 2023

This week, 60 Minutes correspondent Jon Wertheim profiled Steven Van Zandt, the world-famous guitarist, writer, producer, actor and activist.

Wertheim traveled to Rome and watched Van Zandt play a rocking show at the Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman arena, while tens of thousands of fans sang along to every word. Van Zandt said it felt a little bit like a homecoming.

“It is the motherland, yes,” Van Zandt told Wertheim. “I’m 100% Italian blood. And they know it. You know, I’ve been here enough.”

Jon Wertheim spoke to Van Zandt in the garden of his hotel in Rome, partially for aesthetics but also out of necessity. Large crowds of fans hung out for days outside the hotel hoping to catch a glimpse of Van Zandt.

“Steven Van Zandt can’t walk down the Via del Corso and not expect to get mobbed,” Wertheim explained in an interview with 60 Minutes Overtime. 

Wertheim and Van Zandt had a wide-ranging, hours-long interview, discussing “Little Steven’s” career, his numerous projects outside of the E Street band, his early years as a teenage musician in New Jersey, his philosophy on music, and his acting debut as Silvio Dante in the highly acclaimed television drama The Sopranos. 

Van Zandt had never acted before he joined The Sopranos cast. When shooting for the first season began, he recalled feeling worried that the producers and cast might be annoyed with his lack of experience. His co-star James Gandolfini, Van Zandt calls him “Jimmy”, who played the indelible role of mafia boss Tony Soprano, immediately set his mind at ease. 

“Jimmy just set that tone right away,” Van Zandt explained. “Just utmost respect.”

Van Zandt said when they started filming, the show’s creator David Chase had not yet written the scenes that would bring the two actors closer together on screen, when Silvio Dante becomes Tony’s consigliere.

He suggested that the close friendship Gandolfini and him had developed on set could have played a role when Chase wrote that eventual, pivotal plot point.

“I don’t know whether it was me bonding with Jimmy… but slowly I become the underboss and consigliere,” he explained. “And at that point, I know what I’m doin’, okay? Because I had been doin’ this my whole life with Bruce, right?”

It’s been over ten years since James Gandolfini’s death, but Steven Van Zandt still thinks of him daily.

“I miss him every day,” he said.

The video above was produced by Will Croxton and edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.

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