James Gandolfini R.I.PJune 21, 2013
James Gandolfini, the triple Emmy Award winning actor, best known for playing mob boss Tony Soprano in The Sopranos TV series, is dead. He was on holiday in Italy when he had a heart attack and died. He was 51.
Spoiler alert! I’m going to feature some clips of The Sopranos. If you’ve never seen the show and you want to in the near future, you should stop reading here.
James Gandolfini was a Jersey boy, born in Westwood, New Jersey, to Italian parents. He was introduced to acting while living in New York. He was in the Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire and films including True Romance, Terminal Velocity and Get Shorty. Then Tony Soprano came-a-calling.
Good shows come down to the quality of the writing, but what really brings these shows and their characters to life is the quality of the acting. In playing Tony Soprano, a troubled mafia boss and family man, Gandolfini brilliantly managed to make him both repellent and likeable. I’ll just pop in a couple of clips from the show, which ran for six seasons from 1999-2007.
Some of the best scenes, in my opinion, were with Tony Soprano and Dr Jennifer Melfi, beautifully played by Lorraine Bracco. We’re complex human beings and those scenes showed Soprano as more than just a hardcore wiseguy.
The song Don’t Stop Believing by Journey was cute as featured in the pilot episode of Glee. In the final scene of the finale of The Sopranos called Made in America, the ending of which divided audiences, it was much darker. There was a feeling of foreboding. The more times I watch this clip, the more I’m convinced that Tony was whacked.
Post-Sopranos he appeared in Broadway’s God of Carnage and other films like The Taking Of Pelham 123, Where The Wild Things Are, Killing Them Softly and Zero Dark Thirty.
Here’s a clip from the film In The Loop, a spin-off of the British TV political satire The Thick of It. It features Gandolfini and Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker squaring up to each other. Tucker is the aggressive and foul-mouthed Director of Communications for the government. They’re mean. They’re filthy. They’re magnificent.
I didn’t know this, but looking at Wikipedia, I found out he recently produced two documentaries. Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq about injured veterans from the Iraq war, and Wartorn: 1861–2010 looking at how post traumatic stress disorder affected soldiers and their families through wars from 1861-2010.
He leaves behind his wife and children, as well as a legion of shocked, upset fans and fellow actors. The people of Jersey have spoken of him with pride. I can’t imagine the participants of Jersey Shore would be afforded the same respect. From all the tributes I’ve read about him, the following words used to describe him appeared again and again: genius; talented; kind; generous; humble and gentle giant. Makes me wish I’d met him now.
I raise my glass to you, James Gandolfini. It’s been a pleasure watching you. Bada Bing, big fella.