Hearing the shattering news of the abrupt and untimely passing of James Gandolfini at just 51 is genuinely devastating news. In this day and age it can be difficult to look at people from the world of celebrity as heroes and icons but he definitely fell into that category for us. Forget being reactionary or sycophantic, this was huge news, this guy was the face of our generation, our Brando, our Elvis, now we know what it feels like. An immense presence on screen as the star, the anchor of what is the arguably the greatest series of all time. As Tony Soprano he rightly got his bigger break after first coming to mainstream attention as Virgil in True Romance - a role largely credited as being the one that landed him the big one. It's not on reflection of his sudden death that we give him the plaudits though, I have him tattooed on my forearm and pictures framed on the wall such was his impact.
A true master of an actor and humble with it, off screen uncomfortable with his fame and said he didn't feel he was that interesting, describing himself as a 270 pound Woody Allen. Whilst it should also be remembered he was a gifted talent with a range of roles on his CV, indeed he started his career on Broadway to critical acclaim, it was as the brutish, murderous, troubled crime boss and father played so well and with the vulnerability that meant we all rooted for and will remember him by and which leaves many of us genuinely gutted by this news. Whilst it's already been said and probably a dozen times his sudden fade to black like the series is far too soon, but he leaves something amazing behind. Salut!
RIP James Joseph Gandolfini, Jr. (September 1961 – June 2013) TC