The idea of a prequel to "The Sopranos" intrigues series creator David Chase, but if that were to happen, he envisions it as atypical.

The 69-year old show runner says he wouldn't mind exploring the era before the show began.

"Even if I did it, it wouldn't be `The Sopranos' that was on the air -- obviously at least one person is gone that we would need," he says. "There are a couple of eras that would be interesting for me to talk about, about Newark, New Jersey. One would be (the) late `60s, early `70s, about all the racial animosity, or the beginning, the really true beginning of the flood of drugs."

For now, he's promoting the release of the entire series on Blu-ray.

Chase recently sat down with The Associated Press to discuss the groundbreaking HBO series, the hype that followed and the finale's still-debated ending.

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AP: How did you deal with the criticism that followed after the show's initial success?

Chase: The first season was made, completely shot -- written, shot and edited before any of the public ever saw it, so it existed in this little time capsule of its own with no reaction whatsoever. So when that hit the media, it blew up. I tried to retain that attitude that we were just out there in Queens making the show and it didn't matter. ... After a while when it became very successful, you just start to go `... I'm going to do what I want.' Why not? How often does anyone get this opportunity, so use it. Some people would tell you, `They went off on tangents.' I could have care less about it.

AP: Was Steven Van Zandt considered to play Tony Soprano?

Chase: Stevie was one of the people that read for it and that would have been a totally different show. Could have been a very good show, too, I think, but funnier and sillier. ... But for all the reasons that I'm sitting here today, a lot of that has to do with Jim (Gandolfini) and his natural abilities and inclinations.

AP: Was there emphasis to treat the violence with shock value, you know, like Ralphie Cifaretto's head in a bowling bag?

Chase: A lot of it is like a ghastly joke. The things you're bringing up, the bowling ball bag, that's not shocking, it's just ghastly and it's stupidly funny. ... This was a mob war and it was idiotic the whole reason for it. And I know the other thing about it was that Tony was very happy when it came time to bury the head. And he was enjoying working that tractor, that bucket loader. That's when I liked best was the absurdity of all that. He was enjoying himself up there.

AP: Did you know in advance that the finale's black ending would create such a controversy?

Chase: Obviously you can't think about memory before it all happens. I'm really glad I had the creative freedom to do what I wanted to do. I wasn't even questioned about it by HBO.

AP: Are series finales overhyped?

Chase: Most of my TV career, and still happening now, shows ended because somebody got a phone call saying, `You're canceled,' and that was that. You had to write an ending and that never even occurred to people. It's over. ... On some level now, I feel this ending thing has been overblown.