Although Gandolfini enjoyed scene-stealing turns as a character actor both before and after his breakout, it was his impassioned and transcendent turn as patriarch and mob boss Tony Soprano in HBO’s groundbreaking The Sopranos that led him to near-universal acclaim, if not stardom.
Remarkably, Gandolfini won only three Emmys for his work as the troubled gangster-cum-family man, but was an integral part of the program that is known not only for solidifying HBO’s place in the realm of important television, but also for solidifying television’s place in the realm of art.
His body of work and legacy aside, James Gandolfini seemed like a true artist when he played Tony Soprano, and any revisiting of his work before that role would indicate it was a passion he carried regardless of his success. He’s gone, but he died in Italy at a film festival, which is a far more dignified end than many of his characters received. He will be missed.
Goodbye and thank you, James!