June 20, 2013

When a complete stranger comes into your home every week via the TV, you can't really help but develop an affinity for them. When the TV show that brings them there is of the highest caliber, said affinity grows stronger. When that complete stranger's acting talent is also of the highest caliber, again, said affinity grows.

James Gandolfini was one of those actors of the highest caliber, on a Television show of equal caliber, that came into our homes over the course of six glorious seasons of HBO's The Sopranos. His NJ mob boss was ruthless and debased, and his actions often times shocked us and made us question his humanity... and yet we couldn't help but love him.

Tony Soprano wasn't all menace; in fact he was a loving family man who did his best to take care of his family, despite the fact that most of the time they didn't deserve it. More than that, he was a tortured soul, which is the real reason that we as an audience felt for him, despite his rather large misgivings. James Gandolfini made us love someone we should have despised, and that, my friends, is no mean feat.

Those that knew the real James Gandolfini called him kind and gracious; a gentle and loving man that treated everyone with respect, no matter who they were. He was charitable, he was warm, and he was humble.

I never knew that side of him, because I'm just a fan of his work, and never had the privilege to know him in the real world, but it makes me really happy to know that someone whose talent I so admired, was even more admirable in his real life.

It also makes me sad, because the world is better for having those types of people In it, and now there's one less amongst us.

Aside from his fantastic work on The Sopranos I'd like to offer you two examples of just how great of an actor Mr. Gandolfini was:

This scene from Tony Scott's 1993 classic, True Romance, was my introduction to James Gandolfini. It's about as perfect as a scene can get; while being utterly brutal, it also has a sort of quiet sentimentality to it. James Gandolfini plays a hitman who beats Patricia Arquette half to death, and yet still shows flashes of remorse and tenderness while doing so. If you haven't seen the movie, you're missing out and need to get on it asap. it's short, powerful, and brilliant.

If there's a movie that really speaks to who James Gandolfini was as a person, it might just be Welcome to the Rileys. It's a heartwarming drama about a guy who after losing his teenage daughter, dedicates himself to saving the life of troubled teen. It's a good movie, and in my heart of hearts, I believe that it may be the best on screen representation of James Gandolfini the person, that we've seen.

51 is far too young for someone to die. While James Gandolfini entertained us with his immense talent, by all accounts he also made the lives of those around him better through his charitable actions and his equally immense capacity for love and kindness.

I guess you can't really leave behind a better legacy than that. Thanks, Tone. For everything.

Good night, sweet prince, and may you rest well.

As well it should be. (Click for story)


  1. A great actor and even better man. Man i will miss him ,breaking out all the sopranos dvds this weekend!

  2. from howard-
    sopranos was actually the only show in my life i never missed on sunday nights...was followed by curb your enthusiasm - both were awesome.

    this is sad because of all the obvious reasons , and everytime i saw a pic of him or saw him on tv it reminded me of when i used to see john candy - they both were morbidly obese guys and you just knew they wouldnt live long. its almost like a star who is a drug addict - and everyone knows...
    The last thing i saw Gandolfini do was a documentary on war veterans -really great show on hbo and it was brilliant - check it out.

  3. Being overweight and having a serious issue with cocaine is a deadly combination.

    Reminded me a lot of John Candy and Chris Farley, who were both very big guys, but also partied hard in their day... a shame we have to lose such talent like that.