It’s not often I feel compelled to write about the sad passing of a celebrity figure. In fact for ‘not often’ read ‘never’, but James Gandolfini meant a lot to me. We’ve spent a lot of time together these past 15 years or so me and ‘T’, as he was called by certain members of his crew in The Sopranos, and in a strange kind of way not grounded in any sense of logic, I looked at Tony Soprano as family. I’ve watched all six series of The Sopranos in its entirety twice now and I’m seriously considering going for the hat-trick.
Gandolfini, as New Jersey Mob boss Tony Soprano, was the most mesmerising TV character of the past twenty years. Possibly ever. A violent, sensitive, comical man wrapped up tightly in a mass of contradictions, but whose side you were always on, no matter how depraved his crime(s). He directed whole scenes purely through his eyes and had a gaze that drew you in and demanded to know just what the hell was going on inside his troubled mind – and you can’t say that about Ken Barlow (probably best not to say anything about him actually…)
I laughed with him, I cried with him, I shared many of his frustrations with him. I admired the legion of bad shirts, the memorable one-liners and the ability of a balding fat bloke to pull so many beautiful women. Shit, part of me probably even wanted to be him; just with better clothes.
During the first run of The Sopranos I would wish days away waiting for the next episode and it was always ever Tony I looked forward to watching most. I don’t think I could ever grow tired of watching him, in whatever role he chose. And on a purely selfish level I’m devastated that we’ll never see him play Tony Soprano again, even though that was probably always the case. It’s equally shattering to think we’ll never see such an awesome talent in any new productions and, of course, what’s most heartbreaking is that he leaves behind a young family.
James Gandolfini; a true genius. Rest easy big man.