Thursday, June 20, 2013

James Gandolfini: 1961 - 2013

Beloved actor James Gandolfini passed away yesterday at the age of 51. The accomplished character actor had brought to life many memorable characters over the course of his two decade career on stage and screen (True Romance, The Man Who Wasn't There, Where the Wild Things Are, In the Loop), but he will forever be remembered and revered for his portrayal of mob boss Tony Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos. There is very little that can be said about that now-legendary performance that has not been said before; Gandolfini brought nuance, gravitas, and complexity to the character; alternately gruff, charming, venal, well-intentioned, violent, and, to the viewers, frighteningly relatable. Tony Soprano is often cited as the definitive example of just how dark a television character can be; paving the way for Don Draper, Nucky Thompson, and others. The Sopranos was, arguably, the greatest television series of all time; a confluence of outstanding writing, inspired casting, gifted ensemble acting, and a strong overarching vision from series' creator David Chase. James Gandolfini's performance was the centerpiece of that monumental artistic achievement.