David Chase may be a seven-time Emmy-winner, but that doesn't mean he wasn't nervous arriving on set of his first feature film, "Not Fade Away."

 

"The first morning, you want to get out of the car and run away -- at least I did -- before they get you to the set. And it's kind of like that every day," he says.

 

What had him white-knuckled were concerns that any leader might have before taking the reins of a project.

 

"So many people are gonna ask you so many questions, and you might give the wrong answer," he says. "You just might not be up to the job this time, or you might be wrong. One knows that one has some weaknesses in one's craft and you're hoping that those weaknesses don't rise to the top."

 

To overcome his fears, Chase says he took a day-by-day approach, "chipping away at it a scene at a time."

Someone on set who might have been a source of alleviation for the director was James Gandolfini, who in the film plays a New Jersey Italian father whose son wants to be in a rock band. Initially, Gandolfini wasn't sure about taking the role, considering his past life as Tony Soprano, another Jersey Italian.

"When we talked about him doing the role he cautioned me," the director says. "He said 'don't you think this might be a little bit too soon?' I said, 'yeah, there's that potential I guess,' but he was the best guy for the role and we both wanted to work together again."

And when it came time for Gandolfini to take on his character, there was no rehashing of his past life.

"We didn't say 'Don't Soprano-ize this.' He was very intent. You have to understand, he's an actor. He's a different person here. He left Tony Soprano behind when he was doing this."

Must-not-see-TV

Chase says he doesn't watch too much TV anymore, save for "Mad Men" and "Boardwalk Empire," and had in the past claimed to "loathe and despise" the majority of what's on television today. But he's quick to clarify his statements on that:

"I used to despise TV back when I was working in network television. I mean, I was really lucky: I worked with really talented people, and I worked on some good shows and I learned a lot from those people. But dealing with networks was such a frustrating, soul-killing experience. It can't be exaggerated -- ugh! But once I got to work at HBO, I loved working in television. You're talking about the same things, trying to do the same thing, which is entertain people. The four major networks, what they're trying to do is, like, not upset anybody. Not do anything original or unusual. But HBO was different."

So about that 'Sopranos' finale...

After a long pause, Chase shed some light on the final episode that still has us scratching our heads:

"Well, what Tony should have been thinking, I guess, and what we all should be thinking -- although we can't live that way -- is that life is really short. And there are good times in it and there are bad times in it. And that we don't know why we're here, but we do know that 20 miles up it's freezing cold, it's a freezing cold universe, but here we have this thing called love, which is our only defense, really, against all that cold, and that it's a very brief interval and that when it's over, I think you're probably always blindsided by it. That's all I can say."