Sopranos Cast Reunites and Shares Favorite Memories with James Gandolfini: He Was 'Really Special'
TV fans are still feeling the impact of The Sopranos 12 years after it stopped airing — and the cast is still missing the series’ lead actor, James Gandolfini, almost six years after he died unexpectedly of a heart attack.
Key members of the iconic HBO drama’s cast reunited for an interview on Today, Thursday morning, and discussed some of their “big boy’s” — as actress Lorraine Bracco referred to Gandolfini — crazier antics on the show.
In particular, Bracco, 64, who played Tony Soprano’s therapist, recalled doing intense, one-on-one scenes with the actor, who would have to recite four- to five-page monologues. Then, when the cameras turned to her, “he would be so happy … that he would like strip and dance and take his clothes off and get all crazy. And I’d be like, ‘Hello! I gotta do my lines here!’ ” Bracco said, laughing.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler, 37, who played the actor’s onscreen daughter, Meadow Soprano, got emotional when she remembered the first alone time she spent with Gandolfini during the college tour episode.
“He could tell I was nervous and he just said, ‘Just look in my eyes and trust me,’ ” Sigler said, welling up.
She later shared that he was incredibly protective of her and Robert Iler, 33, the actor who played her younger brother, A.J.
“The way that he would check up on us behind the scenes that we found out later, the care he felt and the responsibility he felt to make sure we were okay, you don’t find very often. It’s really special.”
When Edie Falco, 55, who’s known for her portrayal of mob wife Carmela Soprano, was asked about her favorite scene with “Jimmy,” she recounted a moment that likely wouldn’t have stood out to most viewers.
“First thing that comes to mind was there was a scene where he and I were in a lawn chair in the backyard by the pool,” the Nurse Jackie star said. “It was tender, but it was Sopranos-esque in that it wasn’t, like, loving. It was just very, sort of, a day in the life of a long-term couple.”
Other actors also shared moments where Gandolfini made them laugh hysterically — or sob.
“You people don’t have any idea how great it was to work with James Gandolfini,” said Vincent Pastore, who played Salvatore Bonpensiero. “He was the best.”
“As I’ve said a thousand times, you do a scene with Jimmy Gandolfini, you walk away a better actor,” Steven Van Zandt, who played Silvio Dante, said.
Iler added that when they reunited, there was “an invisible Jim bubble around us and every hug is a little longer. He’s very, very missed.”
Gandolfini, who won three Emmys for his work on The Sopranos, died in June 2013 at age 51. He suffered a heart attack while traveling in Rome.
“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” HBO said in a statement at the time. “He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect.”
“He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility,” the statement continued. “Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”
The creator of the show, David Chase, revealed even more about the actor in the days after his death.
“He was a genius,” Chase said. “Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes.”
Chase added: “He wasn’t easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.”