James Gandolfini 1961 – 2013

24 Jun

Last Thursday the world found out about the premature death of James Gandolfini. He died of a heart attack last Wednesday in Rome at the age of 51. James was on a short family vacation, travelling around Italy before he had to set off to attend The Taormina Film Festival in Scilly. On the 22nd he was to take part in a discussion about Italian-American views on cinema and was also set to receive the Taormina City Prize. Unfortunately, that was never to be. [1] In this article we’ll be taking a brief look at James’ life and his work.

James was born on the 18th of September 1961 in Westwood, New Jersey to an Italian father and an Italian-American mother. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies from Rutgers University. Before getting into acting he worked as a bar tender, a bouncer and a bar manager. [2] One of James’ first forays into acting was in theatre. He acted opposite Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lang in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway, in 1992. [3] In his first major film, Tony Scott cast James in as Virgil, a vicious mobster, his film True Romance. Even though the film is considered a box office failure, it was a success with the critics. He worked with Tony again on two other films, one being Crimson Tide and The Taking of Pelham 123. Other notable films James was in are Get Shorty, Where the Wild Things Are and Zero Dark Thirty.

The role that brought him super stardom was the role of Tony Soprano in The Sopranos. His character was an Italian-American mobster from New Jersey called Tony. He struggles to balance his family life and his “work” while also trying to cope with his many weaknesses (depression, anger, and womanizing). For this role he went on to be nominated for many prestigious awards and won one Golden Globe, three SAG Awards and three Emmys.

James has also produced two documentaries about war veterans and their lives after they return from the front lines. His first documentary was called Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq which was released in 2007. It was about injured soldiers returning from Iraq and their struggle to adapt to their new life, their family and society. It was nominated for 3 Emmys. [4] His second documentary was called Wartorn: 1861-2010, which was released in 2010. It is about the history of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and how it has affected American soldiers throughout American history. [5] As well as supporting the troops, he also supported The Octoberwoman Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, and returned to his home town to attend their banquet.

Although James has passed on, we still haven’t seen the last of him! He still may be featured in the pilot episode of Criminal Justice, which can be seen on HBO later this year. He also has two more film roles. The first is an untitled project which will also star Toni Collette, Ben Falcone and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The second film is Animal Rescue, which stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace and will be released sometime next year. James leaves behind his wife, his son (from his first marriage), his daughter and two sisters.



[1] http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/james-gandolfinis-death-new-details-572473

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gandolfini

[3] http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001254/bio

[4] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0933877/

[5] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1754858/



52 Responses to “James Gandolfini 1961 – 2013”

  1. parisienne June 24, 2013 at 8:05 PM #


    Awesome article on James! He will be missed.

    • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 7:39 PM #

      Thank you. Yes, he will definately be missed. He had alot of talent.

  2. Com1c Relief June 24, 2013 at 8:39 PM #

    I’m still getting used to the news.

    • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

      So am I. I haad to check numerous news websites before it actually began to sink in that I wasn’t being pranked.

      • ComicRelief June 25, 2013 at 8:01 PM #

        You’re amazing; I’m not sure that would have ever occurred to me.

        • Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 8:03 PM #

          Thanks for the responsible and respectful article.

          • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 9:18 PM #

            You’re welcome and no problem. On looking up information for this I came across alot of reporting that made me sick. Things like blow by blow account of how he died or photos of the hotel room he was in when he had the heart attack. Even the dead deserve some respect and privacy. So I knew exactly what I wanted this article to not be.

        • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 9:21 PM #

          Lol! It’s out of necessity. I’ve seen or heard many fake celebrity death rumours. There are some people sick and twisted people in this world!

  3. Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 6:33 PM #


    Watching the video was really tough.
    It was hard not to him hear him say his girth played a huge part in the presentation of his characters.

    I think I remember you remarking that a few laws had been passed to regulate the consumption of fast foods in England. Obviously James was a US resident, yet I’m tempted, but uncomfortable, about addressing his physical health at the time of his death.

    I’m happy so many people were able to remark about his talents before his swift passing.

    • Open Book June 25, 2013 at 6:55 PM #

      Hi CR!

      There u are!

    • Open Book June 25, 2013 at 7:09 PM #


      I think this is a question for Paris. Why? It would be interesting to know how do actors know when to shut off playing a character? What techniques are there if any after playing a character with physical transformations?

      P.S. Ozzie u can still answer if u like I just wanted to ask Paris to chime in as well. Also FANTASTICAL ARTICLE Oz.

      • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 7:48 PM #

        Thank you and I’ll leave the question for Paris. I have no clue what’s so ever!

      • parisienne June 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM #

        Hi Everyone! I haven’t yet had a chance to watch the video but to answer your question OB I’ll use myself as an example because I know that others work differently than myself.

        First, I have to read the entire script, it gives me a sense of the “voice” of the character. Once I find that then everything else tends to fall into place.

        Also for me, being totally immersed in the environment helps tremendously so its an awesome thing for me when make-up and costuming as well as production design knows what they’re doing because the actor (if the actor is smart) can draw a sense of the emotion off of the total immersion.

        I think Rob mentioned once in a WFE interview that even the underwear helps (its true)

        Total immersion for me makes the scene more believable in the sense that I have something to play off of. Instead of being in an audition room staring into a camera.

        I hope that makes sense.

        • Open Book June 25, 2013 at 7:56 PM #

          Yes! It makes total sense. Thank U!

          Another Q: Have u ever had to gain or lose weight for a role? If so how do u keep from having that behavior consume u?

          • parisienne June 25, 2013 at 8:09 PM #

            Not yet I haven’t. I’ve had roles selected for me though that actually fit my body type (I’m thin) and one of my characters was a fat girl that lost a lot of weight.

            • Open Book June 26, 2013 at 12:40 PM #

              Wow! My question came out convoluted. Sorry! How did u manage to understand what I was trying to say? LOL! Anyway, thanks for the great answer.

              Q: Is there a body type or personality that u would really like to play and explore?

              • parisienne June 26, 2013 at 10:43 PM #

                We share the same brain remember?

                I haven’t really thought about what characters type I would like to play. I’ll think about it and let you know.

        • parisienne June 25, 2013 at 8:07 PM #

          As far as taking yourself out of the scene or dropping a physical characteristic is fairly easy to do because its not “who you are” although you do bring a sense of yourself to the character. The hard part of it is fans get so attached to the character that they no longer see the person behind the character, they have no idea how long it takes to “get into a character” from the dialect, to the costume or anything else for that matter.

          Unfortunately, the character is what the actor is judged by in a personal nature.

          • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 8:35 PM #

            Thanks for the insight Paris! 🙂

          • Open Book June 26, 2013 at 12:53 PM #


            U Said: “The hard part of it is fans get so attached to the character that they no longer see the person behind the character, they have no idea how long it takes to “get into a character” from the dialect, to the costume or anything else for that matter.”

            EXACTLY!!!!!! Wonderful thank u! So in other words once u remove your full costume, make-up and hair etc.. u can mentally switch back without a problem. Your saying because fans don’t see all that’s involved its hard for them to make the disconnect correct?

            Can that be frustrating, or a compliment to an actor if the actor have portrayed a character so well fans like the character rather than the real you?

            • parisienne June 26, 2013 at 7:23 PM #

              Yes, that is correct. Its extremely difficult for them to make the disconnect especially if there is an emotional storyline involved but then some people don’t need the storyline they become attached to the character,itself.

              It all goes back to the para social relationships we spoke about in a previous post the fan creates it

    • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 8:29 PM #

      Yeah, we’re still the fattest nation in Europe but there is alot going on to try and change it. James said about his weight being part of the character but producers also thought the public couldn’t accept a thinner Tony either.

      • Open Book June 26, 2013 at 12:59 PM #

        Ozzie! Please forgive me I had to leave early last night. We had a Thunderstorm here with a few Tornado warnings but all is good today.

        • ozzie20 June 26, 2013 at 8:03 PM #

          No problem. I glad your safe!

      • Open Book June 26, 2013 at 1:13 PM #

        I guess that’s my argument about what lengths an actor will go for a character? Risking or endangering your health seems too high a price to me. I really think its looked down upon in Hollywood today with money so tight for films given actors need to be insured. I mean being a drug addict, alcoholic or extremely overweight actor is like saying u want to be a tabloid celebrity rather than an actor. JG stated in the video he has been thin a few times but felt more comfortable playing characters overweight. I really wonder with his level of success if it’s harder to repackage your image? This might be another Paris question.

        • ozzie20 June 26, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

          I think it is another Paris question! I do too wonder how much his looks helped or hindered in getting roles. Maybe he was typecasted and couldn’t find work that outside of that type of role?

        • parisienne June 26, 2013 at 10:57 PM #

          In a sense, yes it is harder to repackage an image. Some actors never get out of the rut of their “image” and i think that’s a mixture of things.

          1) The character becomes “iconic” or develops a “cult following” so the actor will always be known for that character.

          2) The fans/media demand you to be that character forever. They can’t see an actor as anyone else. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are now having that issue. Fans don’t want them to be with anyone else and will go to great delusional,psychotic lengths to make them Edward and Bella, Always and forever.

          3) I think everyone is typecast to an extent. For example, Kristen Stewart, many of her roles are of the sexual nature except for Bella.

          4) I think its very important that an actor knows how to show and understand emotional range. Because human beings aren’t always showing just one emotion. We feel a myriad of feelings at any given moment and an actor needs to be able to tap into their emotions well enough to pull off a decently emotional arc.

  4. Open Book June 25, 2013 at 7:15 PM #

    I really liked the two documentaries JG made. Has anyone else seen them?

    • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 7:36 PM #

      No, I haven’t but I have youtube links if anyone want them. They both look like they have disturbing scenes in. I’m too squimish to watch them!

      • Open Book June 26, 2013 at 1:16 PM #

        Yes! They are hard to watch and very sad. He will truly be missed. I really, really enjoyed his work and the activist work he’s done I admire.

        • ozzie20 June 26, 2013 at 8:17 PM #

          He is very admirable! I actually didn’t know how much he did to help people and charities until I wrote this. It seems he was genuinely doing because he loved these causes and not for the positive attention it could bring.

    • Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 8:04 PM #

      Sorry, who is “JG?”

      • Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 8:07 PM #

        Sorry, I guess James Gandolfini? I’m going to surrender myself for timeout session.

  5. ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 7:33 PM #

    Hello everyone!

    • Open Book June 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

    • parisienne June 25, 2013 at 7:50 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 8:36 PM #

        Hi OB and Paris!

  6. Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 8:07 PM #

    Hi everyone.

    • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

      Hi CR!

  7. parisienne June 25, 2013 at 8:32 PM #

    Everyone, i’m going to go for the evening. Take Care!

    • Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 8:35 PM #

      Bye Paris.

      • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

        Bye Paris! 🙂

  8. Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

    Sorry, my self-imposed timeouts are really short….

    Being such a popular character actor, it this isn’t too insensitive, I’m hoping his youthful death will be inspire more people to invest in the value of their physical health.

    Celebs seem to always seem to have their physical presentation under control, yet so many of the general population really struggle with their weight. James said he often liked to play blue-collar types and workers making me think his weight might have been part of his costume.


    By the many crass comments Europeans make about fat Americans, I know Europeans condemn our eating excesses. What are those changes. How far do Europeans go to inhibit obesity in the general population?

    • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 9:02 PM #

      Well, I can only speak for the UK and a brief impression about Europe. Here, there are alot of public campaigns to bring awareness. The goverment bans or limits the amount of certain ingredients are used in a product if they are known to cause harm. For example to much salt or E numbers that can cause health problems (this will explain E numbers better than I can if you don’t use that term in the US). Alot of is being done to educate children (I don’t know why food classes were banned in the first place, fortunately for me they phased it out the year below me so I still got to have fun cooking at school, lol).

      We also have food which helps lower cholesterol if you are prone to high level (there are other brands but it’s the first off the top of my head http://www.flora.com/proactiv/Lowering-cholesterol/?WT.srch=1&gclid=CK3alu3BgLgCFUfKtAodznoArA ). In Europe, they seem to be use alot more good fats in their food (things like olive oil, oily fish I can’t think of any more at the moment) instead of trans fat. Fortunately there’s been alot of awareness about this in the UK and people are switching to those products.

      Hope that makes sense and helps with your question!

      • Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 9:04 PM #

        Thank you so much, that was brilliant.

        • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 10:15 PM #

          Oh I forgot to add that I saw a headline that said James’ death could bring awareness to health screening (this was just after I read the too much information news sites and I didn’t really want to know anymore in case I was sick). So he may have also had a genetic condition that also played a role in his death. Bringing awareness to something is always good. My family has this something like this too and we found out the hard way.

          • Open Book June 26, 2013 at 1:25 PM #

            Sorry! to hear that about your family Oz. Yes! Bringing awareness is always good. In the US people seem to think they are pre-destined to be obese, diabetics etc… Its really sad. Hopefully, people will change with more awareness that’s out there.

  9. Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 9:01 PM #

    Well thanks for helping us recall what we’ll all miss in James. He was an incredible talent and I’m sure we’ll all miss him greatly.

    Despite playing a gangster in many roles he seems to have reserved a great deal of his motivations or compulsions for himself. The video demonstrated a lot more hesitance to reveal his quirks and embarassments that I would have expected. I guess so much of this we will never know.

    Then again what he wanted us to know is captured in his stellar performances.

    Thanks Ozzie.

    • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 10:32 PM #

      Aww, what you about James was very sweet! And again, no problem. Being able to look repeatedly at his work has always been entertaining and interesting. It’s just a shame that it is not a life time achieving award news that warrented this article. 😦

  10. Com1c Relief June 25, 2013 at 9:02 PM #

    Talk to you later.

    • ozzie20 June 25, 2013 at 10:43 PM #

      Night CR!

      And night to everyone else!

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