The character of Tony Soprano was like an extra member of the family for the better part of a decade. And, by extension, so was James Gandolfini. For the most part, all of what we knew of him, we knew solely through his portrayal of the mob boss. The one main aspect that the two men shared in actuality? The fact that they were both such fiercely devoted family men. It was a trait that shone through Tony by the grace and talent of James, endearing both to the hearts of millions. Despite quality acting roles before and since, that is how we shall remember him.
Last week, we lost James. Earlier this week, we laid him to rest , a piece of ourselves with him. The character of Tony Soprano will live forever but James Gandolfini was, sadly, meant to be ours for much too short a time. He was the quintessential “gentle giant”, dedicated to the separation of his private and public life, yet willing to go above and beyond for those he loved. This was evident by the droves that presented themselves for his funeral. Not only to his fans, but a large amount of the actors/directors that his spirit touched. As his on-screen wife, Edie Falco so sweetly said, “the love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known”.
It is…exceedingly hard to write about those closest to him who now “survive” him: his wife and two young children. That’s when it really hits you that 51 years old was not a full life lived. But James, being James, managed to pack it full of experiences and love that a lot of us can only aspire to.
So, thank you, James Gandolfini. Thank you for your talent, the heart that you put into every performance, and being a light wherever you went. You will certainly be missed.