Beyond Tony Soprano: Remembering James Gandolfini
James Gandolfini, seen in Toronto, (Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)
Screaming out from Facebook, Twitter and across the entertainment world, so many fans are reacting to the sudden death of actor James Gandolfini by instantly recalling his landmark character from TV's The Sopranos. A family man and a mob boss, Tony Soprano was a role any actor would give his arm for.
The brutal commander was a modern-day Caesar, struggling to hold his private neurosis at bay. Gandolfini drew from his New Jersey upbringing, his Italian-speaking parents and a past job managing a nightclub to deliver a monster we -- well, if not root for, recognize nonetheless.
Although Tony defined Gandolfini's career, his talent was much broader than that one indelible character. Here are three great places to start after you've rewatched The Sopranos.
IN THE LOOP
(Note: explicit language)
In the Loop was a savage satire of Washington politics by Armando Iannucci, executive producer of TV's Veep. Gandolfini had a small, but important, role as Lt. General George Miller, a Washington insider trying to prevent a needless war from breaking out. British fans of the series In the Thick of It already adored Peter Capaldi as the Machiavellian spinmaster Malcolm Tucker. But Tucker met his match when he tried to intimidate the General.
ROMANCE & CIGARETTES
2005's Romance & Cigarettes was reportedly one of Gandolfini's favourite roles, perhaps because the musical (directed by John Turturro was such a departure for him. It allowed the actor to stretch, playing a married man caught in a hot-blooded love affair with a fiery redhead (played by Kate Winslet). On the other hand, maybe he just loved getting the chance to dance with garbage men and sing Engelbert Humperdinck's A Man Without Love.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
Gandolfini was described as a shy man, uncomfortable with his fame. Even in interviews, he seemed hesitant to talk too much about his craft and reluctant to demystify the experience. The 2009 film Where the Wild Things Are allowed the sensitive man that so many of friends spoke of to come out and play. In the adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book, he played a beast named Carol, the most melancholy of monsters.
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