Terence Winter


If you lose your house and your life savings to a broker, you'd probably throw them in the same category as the worst gangsters in history. Everybody's definition of carnage and evil is different.

If I hear an interesting turn of phrase on TV, I'll repeat it back - I just like to roll it around on my tongue. The same goes for dialog: I'll either speak it aloud or whisper it. I definitely sit in front of my computer and mutter. People have mentioned it.

I've had ideas for romantic comedies, but it would be a much more darkly comic version than what usually sells tickets.

When Prohibition was first enacted in 1920, most people stockpiled alcohol, thinking they'd have enough to last them for years. By 1923, that was starting to run out, so your average person started to rely more and more on criminals.

It used to be that you had to do a certain number of episodes to hit syndication in order to try to keep a show on, because it's important to the network because it sells good commercial time. That's really not how HBO does things.

I'm not really gangsta. Not at all. I just write about them. It's fun to pretend, at least on paper. But in real life, not so much.

There's a certain type of person drawn to the gangster world, and they're generally young men who were predisposed to violence and risk-taking, who like to make a lot of money quickly and wear flashy clothes.

In TV, writers generally are the show runners, and they have enormous control over everything. In feature films, very often the writer will turn in a script and never be heard from again.

Nothing about Tony Soprano's life was glamorous. He was never somebody I wanted to be. His life was terrible.

With an interesting character, there's always something to say.

I think I sing a few songs, and I sing them well, and one of them is the mob genre, you know, as a writer.

I'm not interested in someone's credits. Let me see who you are, and tell me a story of your life.

Very often at the end of 'The Sopranos' you get the feeling that its not under control, you should be very worried, and life is kind of really, really messed up at lot of times. It leaves you feeling very disconcerted. That was kind of the point of it.

First and foremost, you want to be truthful as a storyteller.

Does 'Jersey Shore' make me sad for humanity that this is what's passing for entertainment? Well, this is a business, and if that's what millions of people want to watch, I can't fault someone for producing it.

I'm not exaggerating when I say 'Taxi Driver' was the movie that stopped me in my tracks. That was the first time it got me thinking about movies.

It's challenging, in a way, but if you depict anyone with all the colors of human emotion and show those moments - with their families, with their children - the worst of us have elements of real humanity.

I think people, whether they realize they're doing it or not, seek out distractions to take their minds off what they know is bad behavior.

I was in the equity-trading department at Merrill Lynch. I was there in 1987 when the market crashed.

I started with the book 'Boardwalk Empire' and then immersed myself in the history of Atlantic City, World War I, the temperance movement, Prohibition, pop culture. I even read the news and magazines of the period just to soak in it. That was before I even started thinking of the story.

One of the nicest things I ever read about our show was that a critic felt 'Boardwalk Empire' could be the beginning of the blur between television and cinema, because the production values are so high and the storytelling is so compelling.

I tend not to read reviews; there's too much out there in cyberspace.

I was always interested in the 1920s and the gangster world, in general.

Critics who do the weekly recap, I find that kind of absurd. That's like reviewing chapters in a novel.

TV is a level playing field, and you're competing for eyeballs.

The thing is, when you paint somebody in all of their colors, they're never all bad or all good. Even the worst person has humanity in there somewhere.

If you're truly depicting human behavior in an honest way, it is a lot of miscommunication, non-communication, paranoia, passive aggressiveness. People don't finish sentences. They don't say what they mean. They lie to each other. They take credit for things that are actually other people's ideas.

I've always thought that when they say ignorance is bliss, the converse to that is that knowledge is hell. The more you know, the bleaker things can get.

People talk about the plots and what happened, and they see your tricks a mile away.

I wrote for 'The Sopranos' and worked on big, blustery characters for quite a while.

J. Edgar Hoover very famously denied the existence of organized crime up until the Appalachian Meeting, I think, in 1957. It was interesting to me that he clearly had to know that there was such a thing as organized crime and organized criminals as far back as the '20s.

During seventy years of TV, the audience came to feel that the rules are, you can't kill the second lead on your TV show! Whatever's going to happen, it's all okay because there's no way they can kill the star.

I have a rule: I will not alter the basic history of a real-life character to suit our fictional needs in a big way.

I was a big fan of the show 'Deadwood' on HBO, which was created by David Milch. And as soon as I heard that all of those characters on Deadwood were based on real people, the first thing I did was Google everybody.

There's nothing funnier for me than taking two characters and throwing them into a pressure cooker and letting them turn on each other. Especially if they already tend to be loud, aggressive, alpha types. That's sort of everything from 'The Honeymooners' to 'Goodfellas' to 'The Sopranos.'

I look at the feature films that come out, and by and large, 85 percent of them are things I wouldn't in a million years sit down and watch. The more interesting storytelling is happening on television by a long shot.

As a writer, I've tried to avoid strong opinions about morality. You just want to present things as they are and let the viewer come to their own conclusion.

I think that 'Vinyl''s faster-paced. I think 'Boardwalk' was much more luxurious in its storytelling.

Any abhorrent behavior is more interesting to me. I'm always amazed when somebody asks me, 'Why don't you write something about nice people?' Because nice people are boring, that's why.

I'm always amazed by writers who say, 'Oh you know I had a half hour so I sat down and wrote a little bit.' I just need a real big chunk of time to sit down and focus. That's my process.

Any distraction tends to get in the way of being an effective gangster.

We may live like saints, but when it comes to our fantasy life, everybody's got a little larceny in their soul.

For me, I need to fully immerse myself in a script to the point where I'm literally locking myself away for weeks at a time and I just write it. So I can write twelve to fifteen hours in a day, with breaks in between, obviously, but I need to just sort of live within the world of the script.

One FBI agent told us early on that on Monday morning, they would get to the FBI office, and all the agents would talk about 'The Sopranos', having the same conversation about the show, but always from the flip side.

To get to work with my idol, Martin Scorsese, has just been lovely - the highlight of my career.

My favorite thing to write is people under pressure in high-stakes circumstances.

The first rule of show business is get off the stage while people still want more.