It's been six months since James Gandolfini's sudden, tragic death of a heart attack at age 51, but fans and friends are still reeling. His Enough Said costar Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for example, still can't believe he's gone, even as she makes the rounds alone to promote their acclaimed movie -- his final film performance.
Appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday, Dec. 18 -- an episode co-hosted by Julia Roberts -- the Veep actress said she wished Gandolfini could be here to witness the success of Enough Said. (The movie has been featured on many critics' 2013 top 10 lists, and is nominated for four Critics' Choice Awards, a Golden Globe Award for Louis-Dreyfus, and a Screen Actor's Guild Award for Gandolfini.)
"It's bittersweet," she told DeGeneres and Roberts. "I'm still very surprised that, you know, he's not right here, right now. In fact, it's sort of hard to believe."
That said, she thinks his legacy will live on in this movie. "The truth is, I think his performance in this film is so remarkable. Of course it's devastating that he's not here, but on the other hand, [the role] is a real triumph, because he's playing a character...very similar to who he was personally," the former Seinfeld star explained. "He's not at all like Tony Soprano. He's much more of a soft-spoken, mild-mannered kind of guy, and that's the kind of character he plays in this movie."
She added: "I think it's something his fans can really find a lot of joy in. It's a gift."
Roberts, who costarred with Gandolfini and Brad Pitt in 2001's The Mexican, agreed with Louis-Dreyfus. "It's such a beautiful, subtle, gentle performance and very much like the man himself," she said.
Incidentally, they're not the only stars thinking of the late Emmy winner today. HBO announced on Wednesday that they're putting together a special tribute to the actor to air on Sunday, Dec. 22. The presentation will feature more than two dozen friends and colleagues reflecting on their time with Gandolfini, plus clips of his past work and behind-the-scenes footage.