A Soprano silenced
While best known for his television role as Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini (who died yesterday at the age of 51 of a suspected cardiac arrest in Italy) had also carved out an impressive cinematic career, especially in supporting roles.
Before taking on his eight-year stint on the game-changing HBO crime-drama, the New Jersey-born James J Gandolfini Jnr featured in a variety of films like True Romance, Crimson Tide, Get Shorty, The Juror and Fallen. Then as the wave of acclaim surrounding The Sopranos really hit in 2001, he provided the dramatic meat in the Brad Pitt and Julie Roberts-starring oddball crime-comedy The Mexican, as well as playing Big Dave Brewster in the Coen brothers’ beautifully atmospheric The Man Who Wasn't There.
Three years later, a team-up with Ben Affleck for Surviving Christmas was less successful, while a leading role as a man torn between choosing Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet in Jon Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes was mainly notable for him and the rest of the cast lip-synching to multiple tunes:
Post-Sopranos, he'd developed a John Goodman-esque reputation of being a scene stealer, with some of his most memorable turns as an American general in Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It big-screen spinoff In the Loop, the Mayor in Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123 remake and a contract killer with issues in last year’s Killing Them Softly, where he again found himself opposite Pitt.
Gandolfini also put his vocal talents to good use for the role of Carole in Spike Jonze’s splendidly bonkers take on classic children’s tale Where the Wild Things Are.
Last seen here as a CIA director in Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama assassination reconstruction Zero Dark Thirty, Gandolfini may still appear on DVD here in "illusionist" comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and in cinemas in Nicole Holofcener’s (Please Give) latest movie Enough Said, opposite Julia-Louis Dreyfus and Toni Collette. He’d also just finished filming a Denis Lehane (Mystic River)-penned crime drama Animal Rescue, which also stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace.
He will be sadly missed.
But what are your most abiding memories of James Gandolfini? And what were your favourite non-Soprano Gandolfini performances?