(September 18, 1961 – June 19, 2013)
Fans of the hit show “The Soprano’s” mourn the loss of actor and star James Gandolfini, who played the lead role of Tony Soprano. Apparently, Gandolfini died from a heart attack while vacationing in Rome, Italy, and in this instance his life imitates his art. In the series Premiere episode of “The Sopranos”, James Gandlfini stars as Tony, and this scene shows him having what appears to be a heart attack. It is of course later determined that the Cosa Norta crime boss was having the first of a series of panic attacks.
The emotional disturbance and anxiety panic attacks would reoccur throughout the six seasons in which the HBO series aired, being a central theme around developing his character and introducing supporting roles like Dr. Jennifer Melfi played by Lorraine Bracco.
The actor played the role of a mob leader with a conflicted conscience and unapologetic heart, who was often trying to balance his family life and make peace with it, while simultaneously being the leader of a Mafiosi criminal organization. The Soprano’s was by all means a complete over the top television success. The show premiered on HBO in January 10, 1999, winding up after six season, and 86 episodes on June 10, 2007. The show was syndicated internationally, received acclaim as the “some of the best television of all time” winning 21 Emmy awards and 5 Golden Globes.
I go to dinner parties and everyone expects me to be Tony
Soprano,” he said when we first met. “But I’m nothing like him. – James Gandolfini
What kind of coincidence is this scene? To think that such a successful show and culminating carrer who end almost as if written by the screenplay and actor himself, James Gandolfini. He leaves behind a legacy of work, which pay tribute to his capabilities and depth as an actor. James’s heart attack was reported late evening Thursday June 19, 2013, the actor died while vacationing his motherland Italy, the city of Rome, and here again his life imitates his art, poetically, purposefully.
Upon hearing the news of his friends death, Neil Strauss shared fond memories and personal details that highlight why the man and the actor were loved.
His presence was intimidating. He carried solitude with him
like a ball and chain. He spoke in few words and always directly
–and he expected the same from everyone he met. What I admired
most about him was his brutal honesty. It was never a secret what
he was thinking. And he was always right–except about one thing,
Tony Soprano’s role was developed by creator David Chase based on his own relationship and experiences growing up in New Jersey and having relationship issues with his own mother. Inspiration for the mafia element and setting was taken from New Jersey mob families Boiardo family whose history and influence became the basis for the Soprano family, and the DeCavalcante Family who were scripted as the fictional DiMeo family.
Although James Gandolfini was best known for his lead role as Tony Soprano, this was only the highlight of his career. Gandolfini began acting in the 1980’s and found it easy to gain roles playing an Italian mafioso enforcer, and criminal. In 1996 he played Virgil a small supporting role in “True Romance” written by Quintin Tarantino. He later appeared in “Get Shorty” as “Bear” a stunt man and is seen here in the clip from the film
James Gandolfini on the “Actor’s Studio” talks about growing up Italian American, and getting a lot of research from managing a night club when he was 21. Part 1 of the interview is here.
Amongst his family, James Gandolfini, leaves behind his wife Deborah Lin, and their daughter Liliana Ruth Gandolfi, along with son Michael from previous marriage to Marcy Wudarski. The first scene from his premiere episode of “The Sopranos” was an anxiety attack that looked to viewers like a heart attack. Definitely, a creative and poetic symbolism of how powerful his work was, and how intense he appeared on screen.
For those of us here, besides the loss of a great man, it’s
also a cultural tragedy: As an actor, Gandolfini had still
only scratched the surface of the depth and greatness of his
talent. And even that sliver is more than most actors can hope
to achieve in their lifetimes.
Condolences to his wife, his children, his managers, his
collaborators, and all those who knew and loved him.”
Letter from Thailand – Neil Strauss on James Gandolfini’s Death
The Telegraph – James Gandolfini Was A Genius Says Soprano Creator
The Guardian Film Blog – James Gandolfini: His Film Career In Clips
YouTube – James Gandolfini on Inside The Actors Studio Part I