While it may seem like a mafia-themed film would be an instant hit with audiences, not all of them have reached Goodfellas and Godfather status. Scarface may seem like an iconic film by any standards, but it famously bombed at the theaters when it was initially released in 1983. Someone who knows this all too well, is Mario Puzo, who was responsible for bringing the novel, “The Godfather,” to the silver screen. He gave a 1997 interview with the New York Times discussing the difficulties he faced when trying to bring life to the book, stating, “I remember when I was trying to sell ‘The Godfather,’ everybody said, ‘Who wants another Mafia book?’ That was a strike against it.”
So, when HBO announced they were going to bring a mafia storyline onto the small screen, not everyone was anticipating the smash hit it turned out to be. Telling the story of the mafia in modern times, it was interesting to see how the same Old World values were being modified into new mob culture. Gone were the days of giant compounds with shooters on the balconies, and instead the family lived in a run-of-the-mill cul-de-sac neighborhood.
Yet, regardless of the setting and modern times, all the things beloved about mafia stories were included in spades. From the heists to the hits, there were even regularly scantily clad actresses in almost every episode. When the leading character owns Bada Bing! the strip club, topless women come in and out of the frame regularly on the show. However, it was some of the guest starring roles that showed the hottest characters both on and off screen.
15 Julianna Margulies
Not many actresses can boast playing characters on multiple hit television shows from one decade to the next. Julianna Margulies played long-lasting roles in ER and The Good Wife, among others. Her role on The Sopranos featured a completely different side to the persona audiences were used to seeing in Margulies. A realtor that catches Tony during the time of moral epiphany, her character transitions from the love interest of Tony to the girlfriend of Christopher Moltisanti. While the sexy business suits were a definite bonus, it was the steamy sex scenes with Moltisanti that showcased she still has the lingerie-ready body.
14 Sofia Milos
Often referenced as one of the best storylines throughout The Sopranos series, fans loved when Tony traveled to Italy. The business scenes helped set up the fact that the old-timers reign was finished, and Tony found out who was the real boss: Annalisa, played by Sofia Milos. Every Milos scene eluded to her sexuality, whether it was her tight pants and golfing stance or chomping down on giant shrimp. Fans wondered if something would happen between the two to help solidify his business ties in Italy, but like Tony said, “I don’t to s*** where I eat.” Proving that Annalisa could get her way no matter what their relationship was, Tony wound up losing tens of thousands on the car deal due to her captivating appearance.
13 Lady Gaga
Before the meat suit and the throngs of screaming fans, Lady Gaga was just Stefani Germanotta, an aspiring performer that hadn’t yet reached her full potential. Since the road to success is paved with a number of twists and turns, Gaga dabbled in everything from Go-Go dancing to acting. At the tender age of 15 years old, Gaga was featured on the ninth episode of Season 3 of The Sopranos. Wearing a midriff top and smoking a cigarette, fans should have already seen that a star was born. Although her character was named, “Girl by the pool #2,” Gaga didn’t let that stop her from continuing her pursuit for fame, and now she can look back and add actress to her long list of accolades.
12 Ari Graynor
Ari Graynor is an actress that has managed to stay under the radar, even though she has starred in a number of noteworthy roles on television and the big screen. Unafraid to portray characters with obvious neuroses, Graynor infamously played a guest starring role on CSI: Miami where she shaved her own head on television. However, fans previously got a glimpse of Graynor during a couple of cameos in The Sopranos for Season 3. Coincidentally, her character also had some hair issues of her own, ripping out chunks of it due to her anxiety issues. While she had definite moments of manic depressive behavior, it was the scene chanting a cheerleading song in her underwear that had people wishing they were college students again.
11 Aleksa Palladino
Long before Aleksa Palladino played Jimmy’s bisexual wife in Boardwalk Empire, she played a college student in The Sopranos. Featured in the Season 4 episode, 'Eloise,' Palladino is introduced as one of Meadow’s roommates after moving out of the dorms. Her character is actually a descendant from Spanish royalty, since her great-great-grandmother was a countess. Regardless of her royal ties, she looks like just another college student. It’s quite a different look than her Angela Darmody character on Boardwalk Empire, since she is featured with long flowing strawberry blonde curls. Either way, she’s a super hot guest star that fans were lucky enough to see early in her career.
10 Maria Grazia Cucinotta
While The Sopranos was obviously a show about the modern day mafia, it also featured an underlying theme of mental disorders. Many of the characters exhibited clinical signs of borderline personality disorder, depression, and anxiety issues. Tony Soprano not only saw a psychiatrist, but he also took a variation of different medications. In an attempt to jump-start his system (and get him out of his bathrobe all day and night), Dr. Melfi had him on some drugs that started giving him delusions of an ultra hot houseguest in his neighbor's home. This “Isabella” character was played by Maria Grazia Cucinotta. She embodied what the world expects from an authentic Italian beauty, and made fans wish she was more than just a figment of Tony’s imagination.
9 Annabella Sciorra
While Annabella Sciorra has acted in numerous films and television series throughout her career, many of them have been a bit obscure. When fans were introduced to Tony’s newest future “goomar,” she exuded confidence and sophistication (despite the fact that he met her in the lobby of his shrink’s office). Completely different than his former mistress, Irena, it was nice to see Tony with a girl outside of the Bada Bing! strip club. While she later turned into “another Irena with a college degree,” there were a number of scenes featuring Sciorra in super sexy outfits. From the fur-lined coats to the white lingerie, Sciorra’s character lasted far longer than any other casual affair due to her stunning good looks.
8 Erica Leerhsen
Starting off Season 3 of The Sopranos, the show chose to highlight more of the law enforcement aspect behind mob life. While Season 1 and 2 definitely eluded to the danger of outside forces seeking to wreak havoc on their inner circle, the season premier episode, “Mr. Ruggerio’s Neighborhood” was a real eye-opener. In a surveillance scene featuring Carmela and Adriana La Cerva, they attend a tennis lesson with Erica Leerhsen playing the instructor, Birgit Olafsdottir. The flirtation between Leerhsen and La Cerva is magnetic, with even the FBI agents raved about how happy they were to be assigned to this surveillance detail.
7 Leslie Bega
Starring on The Sopranos as Valentina La Paz, the Cuban and Italian beauty dating Ralph Cifaretto, she quickly caught Tony’s eye. Her childlike humor was a great mix to her super sultry look, and there were some hot sex scenes featuring some steamy hotel adventures between her and Tony. She revealed some sexual deviance in her past (revealing a few threesome experiences), but it wasn’t enough to maintain Tony’s affection. Fans have to try and remember this couple during their happier times, and try to forget about the whole lighting herself on fire incident where her hair burned off and her face was badly scarred.
6 Jessica Dunphy
Season 4 of The Sopranos opened up a whole new storyline for AJ, since he started growing out of his baby face stage. Playing his first real onscreen girlfriend for the show, Jessica Dunphy plays Devin Pillsbury, the super cute blonde that comes from a ridiculous amount of money. While Tony may have a substantial house and access to furs and jewelry, he definitely isn’t rocking authentic Picasso’s on the wall like Devin’s family home. It definitely makes AJ feel a bit insecure in the difference in backgrounds between his father and his new girlfriend, and the mafia correlation does a number on Dunphy’s character as well. Whether you prefer the blonde look or the ebony hair, Dunphy is a great starter girlfriend for AJ’s character.
5 Emily Wickersham
Proving that the only way to get over an ex-girlfriend is to find a new girlfriend, Emily Wickersham appears in the final season of The Sopranos as AJ’s new love interest after his suicide attempt. Slumping into a deep depression after the breakup with Blanca, it seemed like every episode was filled with a teary-eyed AJ complaining about his life. When he saw Wickersham’s character, Rhiannon, at the same psychiatric hospital he was admitted into, audiences could see how she would be the actress to portray a signed model. Starting off as friends, it was inevitable AJ would soon forget about his heartbreak in the arms of Emily Wickersham.
4 Alicia Witt
Early in The Sopranos series, Christopher Moltisanti’s character always seemed to be in a state of turmoil over his mafia status. Dabbling with the idea to become a mafia screenwriter, the two didn’t exactly work well with each other. Referencing Henry Hill’s success in selling insider mob secrets for Goodfellas, Tony wasn’t thrilled to hear Moltisanti’s dreams of writing stories about the mob. While Adriana La Cerva did her part to encourage this artistic side of Moltisanti, it was Alicia Witt’s portrayal as Amy Safir that showed that Moltisanti was into more than just the entertainment industry. As a Hollywood exec, she exuded immense sex appeal that truly shined, whether it was the no-shoes elevator scene or the hotel bathrobe scene that turned into their first sexual encounter.
3 Paula Garces
While most of the construction site scenes were filled with fat guys on lawn chairs with wrappers scattered on the ground, there was always an occasional female employee on site. It would just so happen that the construction company always had at least one super hot female answering phones or pushing paperwork. Paula Garces made her appearance as Felicia Galan in Season 5 of The Sopranos, but it was the infamous thong scene that stands out in people’s minds. Leaning over in a lawn chair next to Meadow’s boyfriend, Finn, he couldn’t help to take a peek at her exposed thong in her low rise jeans.
2 Vanessa Ferlito
The Sopranos have brought back previous actors on more than one occasion, like when Joseph R. Gannascoli played “Gino” at the bakery scene where Christopher shoots an employee in the foot but then later emerges as “Vito” with a much longer storyline. Vanessa Ferlito’s case is different because her Sopranos character shows up in episodes but as the same person. Playing “Mustang Sally’s” girlfriend, Tina, and then reemerging as the Tina friend of Adriana La Cerva, her look and attitude worked perfectly with the gaudy style La Cerva was known for. Fur coats (stolen through her Dad’s company) and some raunchy language aimed at Christopher, Ferlito never appeared on the show after La Cerva figured out she was too sexy to have around her man.
1 Dania Ramirez
Dania Ramirez is a Dominican-American actress that was introduced on The Sopranos series as an outsider of the mafia world. Doing paperwork at one of their construction sites, her character almost seemed too sexy to be working in a trailer on site. When AJ landed a date with her, it was a bit unbelievable since fans mostly remembered him as the chubby little kid from Season 1. Nabbing her as the sexy Blanca on his arm, there’s no wonder he completely fell apart once she dumped him. Proposing and getting her name tattooed on him, he definitely fell fast and hard; yet, with a woman that hot, who could blame him?