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.  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.  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.  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.  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.  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.