Mark Zinno: James Gandolfini Embodied Tony Soprano Better Than Anyone Could
James Gandolfini died of a sudden heart attack in Rome and the tender age of 51. And while, we can all agree that he was taken away too soon, his character of Tony Soprano probably wouldn’t have lived that long. For different reasons, obviously, Tony Soprano’s life expectancy was rather short. James Gandolfini was the perfect Tony Soprano. Everything from his accent, to his facial gestures, to the vary and pitch of every emotional encounter he was part of on the screen.
It is certainly hard for certain actors to “escape” certain roles, but I think if someone had asked Gandolfini if he would be okay with being call Tony Soprano, rather than his own name, he would be fine with it. There were parts of Tony Soprano that all men can relate. Even the rage he showed to the point of killing, we have all felt it. In watching that series, everyone could relate to the emotions displayed. Tony Soprano was this, almost, likable monster that we all would welcome into our closest inner circle. You could drink with him, laugh with him – and even at times, cry with him. It’s what made that show immensely popular.
James Gandolfini’s passing is something that saddens us because we all knew that we would have liked to see more of him. We all know that “Tony Soprano” could have stepped out of that typecast and become someone new. Someone we all would have liked. For Gandolfini, one can only hope he knew how much we liked him already.
I leave you with a classic Tony Soprano scene. He shows more emotion in three minutes than most of us put out in a day. My colleague Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN.com found this clip. (WARNING: it contains explicit language)
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