James Gandolfini, TV’s Tony Soprano, Dies at 51

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james gandolfiniIt takes a gifted actor to make us love a mob boss. Such was the gift of James Gandolfini, who died suddenly June 19 at 51. His managers believe the star of HBO’s The Sopranos may have suffered a heart attack. Gandolfini came by the look of a tough guy honestly, one of his jobs before acting was being a bouncer. He started on Broadway in “A Streetcar Named Desire” alongside Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange.

The role that defined Gandolfini almost didn’t happen for him. Ray Liotta was HBO’s first choice, but he wanted to continue his film career. Now it’s impossible to imagine anyone else as Tony Soprano. The mobster was a larger than life figure to those who had business dealings with him, but when Tony entered therapy he was as vulnerable as any of us. He had troubles in his marriage, his kids lacked direction in their lives and he had a seriously overbearing mother. When Tony Soprano wasn’t ordering a hit on somebody, he could have been the guy next door.

David Chase, the show’s creator compared Gandolfini to Mozart.

“He was a genius,” Chase said in a statement. “Anyone who saw him in even the smallest of performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes.”

Gandolfini earned three Emmys and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the complex gangster. His character paved the way for anti-heroes such as Breaking Bad’s Walter White. After The Sopranos ended, the actor appeared in films including “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Killing Them Softly.”

Read [E! Online]


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