Tributes are pouring in from Hollywood to New York City after actor and TriBeCa resident James Gandolfini, best known for his starring role in "The Sopranos," died Wednesday in Italy. NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following report.
James Gandolfini will forever be remembered for his iconic role as New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano in the HBO series "The Sopranos." It was a show that changed the landscape of television, and it was Gandolfini's brilliant leading performance that guided the program into the history books.
There were dozens of TV and movie gangsters that preceded him, but never before had audiences seen anything like this. Gandolfini played a powerful and violent man who was also coping with anxiety, marital problems and fatherhood, and he regularly saw a therapist. It was this stark contrast that made the character fascinating, and Gandolfini seemed to embody Tony Soprano, hitting all the right notes. What fascinated audiences was Gandolfini portrayal of a complex man who, for example, was capable of murder while taking his daughter to a college interview.
James Gandolfini was born and raised in New Jersey. He began his career playing small supporting roles in films and on Broadway. He triumphantly returned to the Great White Way in 2009, starring in the ensemble piece "God Of Carnage." It was a sensational and hilarious multi-layered performance, and it earned him a Tony nomination.
Before landing his starring role on The Soprano's, Gandolfini carved out a niche for himself playing assorted gangsters, henchmen and mobsters in the movies. One such appearance was in the 1993 film "True Romance," which was written by Quentin Tarantino.
Other memorable roles included his turn as a twisted prison warden in "The Last Castle" opposite Robert Redford, and as mayor of New York City in "The Taking Of Pelham 123."
Last year, Gandolfini reunited with the man who cast him in "The Sopranos," series creator David Chase, in the nostalgic 1960s movie "Not Fade Away." Once again, he played a New Jersey dad, but this time, he was dealing with a son who wants to be a rock star.
Chase called Gandolfini a genius, and said he was one of the most gifted actors of his time or of any time.
James Gandolfini was 51.