Everywhere I looked today online, people have been mourning the loss of one of TV’s greatest actors of all time: James Gandolfini.
I’m not writing this post to jump on that bandwagon and get some exposure for this site with a topical story. No.
The Soprano’s- The HBO show where Gandolfini brilliantly portrayed the volatile mob boss Tony Soprano- had a major effect on my perception of fiction, which forced its way into my disposition as a screenwriter.
Admittedly I caught a few episodes of the show long before I was at the appropriate age to watch. That aside, The Soprano’s forever changed the way I viewed television shows, as well as characters- or more specifically, protagonists.
Tony Soprano was one of the first anti-heroes I had ever come across in fiction. A hardcore mob boss who is ruthless in one scene as he deals with a mob issue; vulnerable in another as he fights the demons of his past; and stern in yet another scene as he addresses his children who are growing up before his eyes.
I personally had never been exposed to such a vast range of emotions and actions in a single character, played with such finesse as only an artist can manage. But James Gandolfini did it.
Synonymous with the character, Gadolfini was as much Tony Soprano as he was himself- he took the character off the page and made it his own. Even today many people are bidding him farewell with “R.I.P Tony Soprano”.
Yeah it wasn’t the only thing he ever starred in, but his performance was so ground-breaking that it changed many perceptions- including mine- about the structure of stories and expectations of television programming all over the world.
Rest in peace, James Gandolfini.