Wednesday, June 19, 2013

James Gandolfini (1961-2013)

Sad news as reports have come in that James Gandolfini, forever canonized as Tony Soprano, has died today at the age of 51.  The famed actor of television, stage and screen fell victim to a stroke while in Italy, leaving behind a legacy of being apart of what many consider the best television series of all fact The Sopranos was just named the Best Written Show by the Writers Guild Association of America a few weeks back.  So much of the success of the series was reliant on the thoughtful, but tough characterization that Gandolfini created-- he was rightly award 3 Emmy Awards, 5 Screen Actors Guild Award, 3 Television Critics Awards and a Golden Globe for his role in the David Chase mob drama.  Well before however, he was distantly memorable as a character before his big break, mostly playing variants of the touch guy role that perpetuated his career.  Even still, his varied portraits in small roles in films like Get Shorty and True Romance were standouts.  It was Tony Soprano, of course, that he would become synonymous with.  Even as later roles created more varied textures of his talents like the underrated Coen Brothers noir The Man Who Wasn't There, the silly trifle The Mexican, where his transgressive take on the classic toughie stole the show away from both Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, his surprisingly witty take in the bonkers political satire In the Loop, touching work in Where the Wild Things Are and recent work in varied films like Not Fade Away, Killing Them Softly and Zero Dark Thirty.  On stage, he recently received a Tony Award nomination for his performance in God of Carnage, which was later adapted into a film by Roman Polanski.  It's a shock, a sudden fade to black from one of the top performers in recent years, one of which that is reminiscent of the last shot in his eternal series. 

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