by Jack Henison
There is no doubt that the late great James Gandolfini will universally be best remembered for his portrayal of Tony Soprano in the long running television series ‘The Sopranos’. It was during his run on the now iconic show that he won three Emmys, five screen actors’ guild awards, an AFI award, a golden globe, three TCA awards and was nominated a further 23 times for other various awards. Tony Soprano was a very conflicted character, on one hand he was a violent, sociopathic mafia boss, but on the other he was a loving father and doted family man. Leading these two lifestyles was a constant identity crisis for Tony and he continually questioned his morals and purpose. Entertainment Weekly named Gandolfini as the 42nd greatest TV icon of all time.
For me personally my definitive role of his will always be Virgil in ‘True Romance’, if ever proof was needed for what a mesmerizing screen presence he was then it is in this film. Virgil is a brutal and sadistic mob enforcer who is sent to interrogate the female lead Alabama (Patricia Arquette) to locate the cocaine she and her husband have stolen, however it soon becomes apparent that Virgil is rather unhinged and he proceeds to beat Alabama. Gandolfini is only on screen for approximately ten minutes or so, but boy what a presence he makes! True Romance is best described as a series of well written and executed cameos, and James acted in two of the most iconic and memorable scenes from the film, for my money this was the best performance he ever gave. If you haven’t seen True Romance yet I urge you too, it a masterpiece and demonstrates just how enormously talented an actor James was.
It is an incredible shame that we have lost James Gandolfini way to early. His sudden death whilst on holiday in Italy was a shock to many and a lot of his fellow co-stars took to the internet to pay tribute to him. Although he may have died at the rather young age of 51 James still managed to make a big stamp into popular culture. It is sad he’s gone as I feel he had so many more great roles left in him, but let’s not mourn what could have been and celebrate what we have, whether your favourite role of his was in a television show or a film feel lucky that you will always have something to remember him by.