My Favorite Tribute Article to James so Far

#1
Refreshingly personal piece that goes far beyond remembering only James' career, delving instead into the man "behind-the-scenes".

A couple of my favorite excerpts. Such incredible humility, for someone with the immense talent that he possessed. At the same time, it's almost saddening to think how self-deprecating he could be. I wonder if he knew just how gifted he was, and just how many people he truly touched with that gift.

I did one of the only one-on-one interviews with him, way back in late 1998, before The Sopranos premiered on HBO.

Two days before our scheduled interview, he called my house. My wife answered the phone.

“Yes?” she said.

Then her jaw dropped. She put her hand over the mouthpiece and whispered, “It’s James Gandolfini!”

She loved Gandolfini. She’d had a crush on him ever since she saw him play Geena Davis’ boyfriend in Angie.

Then she held up a silencing finger because Gandolfini was already talking, nervously. Stammering, practically.

“Okay,” she said to him. “All right. Well, OK. Well. Well ... Well, I don’t know about that. Are you sure?”

Long pause.

“It might not be so bad,” she told him. “You never know. You know what? I think this is a conversation that you really should have with Matt. Hold on a second, he’s right here.”

When I picked up the receiver, Gandolfini said, “Hey, listen, I’ve been thinking about it, and I really think it’s better if I don’t do this interview.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“I just don’t see how I’d have anything interesting to say,” he said. “Why would anybody care? I’m just not that interesting. Who cares what some actor has to say about anything? I’ll just come off sounding like an idiot.”

He was silent for an awkward moment.

Then he said, “I don’t want to get you in trouble with your bosses, though. So I thought I should talk to you about it, and ask you if maybe there was some way we could not do this thing. And just … not do it. Without causing a problem for you. Or for me.”

Somehow I managed to talk him into doing the interview anyhow.
There was no blowout premiere party for season one of The Sopranos because nobody had any idea how big it would become. Season two was a different story. HBO rented out Radio City Music Hall. The cast and crew and executives arrived in limousines, as is customary. James Gandolfini arrived in a yellow cab.

At the after-party, I asked him why.

“My family’s here,” he said. “My friends are here. Guys I grew up with are here. Some of them came by train or by the subway to get here, or they drove three hours in a van or whatever. What are they gonna think if they see me getting out of a limo?”
Anyway, I thought the whole thing was a really good read.

http://www.vulture.com/2013/06/james-gandolfini-obit-matt-zoller-seitz.html

Re: My Favorite Tribute Article to James so Far

#3
Very nice article, thanks so much for the link, sopranology.

I found this quote particularly spot on:

there was always something about the guy that you wanted to embrace.

You could feel it shining through the screen, that warmth and vulnerability, that broken yet still-hopeful humanness.

That’s what made Tony Soprano, a bully and killer and cheater and disgusting hypocrite, so likable. The decent part of Tony, the part that stood in for the tragically wasted human potential Dr. Melfi kept trying to tease out and embrace, came from Gandolfini. His humanity shone through Tony’s rotten façade. When people said they sensed good in Tony, it was James Gandolfini they sensed.

And I think that's what Chase was referring to when he talked about Gandolfini's "genius". At some point in the next day or so, I hope to find Chase's exact quotes from, I think, a season 2 interview with Fresh Air where he talks about why Gandolfini's rare gift was the thing without which there would be no Sopranos. It's a tremendous echo of what the above author is saying.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: My Favorite Tribute Article to James so Far

#4
There are links to other Gandolfini stories at the bottom of this article, and one of them leads to Edie Falco's tribute, which is beautiful:

I am shocked and devastated by Jim’s passing. He was a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity, with a kindness and generosity beyond words. I consider myself very lucky to have spent 10 years as his close colleague. My heart goes out to his family. As those of us in his pretend one hold on to the memories of our intense and beautiful time together. The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: My Favorite Tribute Article to James so Far

#5
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:Very nice article, thanks so much for the link, sopranology.

I found this quote particularly spot on:

And I think that's what Chase was referring to when he talked about Gandolfini's "genius". At some point in the next day or so, I hope to find Chase's exact quotes from, I think, a season 2 interview with Fresh Air where he talks about why Gandolfini's rare gift was the thing without which there would be no Sopranos. It's a tremendous echo of what the above author is saying.


NPR's Fresh Air did a segment in today's program devoted to him. He never appeared on the show himself, so they cut some clips from other interviews of people who worked with him (David Chase, Edie Falco and Jeff Daniels). Here is David's portion, which I believe is the one you mean, Fly:
I always go for the actor. If the actor who came in to read for this part had been Cary Grant, and it had worked, I probably would have said "fine, let's do that." But, we didn't. What, really, we were blessed enough to have happen is that James Gandolfini came through our door. And I honestly mean this: without Jim Gandolfini, there is no Sopranos. There is no Tony Soprano. He is so integral to, I think... People always ask me, "Why do people like this show so much? Why the furor?" And it's because of him. That's why the whole thing, I think, is so identifiable to so many people, because he just is so human. And people respond to him. Their hearts and their heads go out to him, despite, the heinous things he's doing onscreen.

(Interviewer: There's something very 'average guy' looking about him.)

Well, it's more than that. I don't think he is that average. I think he is a very, very sensitive - hypersenstive - man. And I think he reflects his environment in a very, very rarefied way. And he comes off as the regular Joe, y'know, but I think what's going on there is you have a very, very, extremely emotional person, and sensitive person. And that's what Tony Soprano has become, as a result of him.

Re: My Favorite Tribute Article to James so Far

#9
Thanks for those links, bobC and DH. No review of tributes would have been complete without one from Sepinwall

It's now 5 days, and there's still a surreal, "someone wake me up" feeling to this event that I'm not sure I've encountered before in my life. I can't explain it.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: My Favorite Tribute Article to James so Far

#10
It's probably a bit worse than I felt when Phil Hartmann died and not quite as bad as when John Candy died. Both still had promise, but I guess I loved Candy's work more. Another couple for me are River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain but I think that may have been more a generational thing though still very impacting. (And showing my age, the worst is John Lennon but I was too young to realize what that meant as I was only 7 years old.)

Perhaps we link Gandolfini so much with Tony that we feel as though Tony is actually finally dead. It has been mentioned in a few of these articles that he had a hard time getting away from the character, as an actor going forward. Audiences apparently snickered when he showed up in Zero Dark Thirty. Not wanting to get back into that whole ending argument, but for me a feeling came across me that we will now truly never know. May not have ever, but now it is final (surely no movie to follow unless they wanted to explore "the after" and I'd think that would be difficult for all involved.)

It's a testament to the man's work, to be sure.
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

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