James Gandolfini was so much more than Tony Soprano. Although the late actor — who died of a heart attack at age 51 in Rome, Italy on Wednesday June 19 — is best remembered for his role as the tortured mafia don in the masterful HBO series, he leaves behind a huge filmography of memorable roles on the big screen, too.
The married father of two won three Emmys as Tony in The Sopranos, which ran from 1999 to 2007. But his first major film role was opposite Brad Pitt and Patricia Arquette in 1993’s True Romance; two years later, he was a standout in scene-stealing moments with John Travolta and other A-listers in Get Shorty. He would go on to share the screen with the likes of Julia Roberts (The Mexican, 2001), Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet (Romance and Cigarette, 2005) and many others, working with the best directors of the era.
Most recently, Gandolfini appeared as the CIA Director in one of last year’s most acclaimed films, Zero Dark Thirty, and recently earned a Tony nomination in the intense drama Gods of Carnage. Often called a “gentle giant,” he voiced the lovable “wild thing” creature Carol in 2009’s Where the Wild Things Are. (He counted Kristen Stewart as a costar in 2010’s Welcome to the Rileys.)
“He was too big,” Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers raved. “Big in size. Big in talent. Big as in unbreakable. This is an actor who could blend tough and tender like nobody’s business. And Gandolfini kept his private business to himself. He didn’t talk much about acting. He just did it. When something touched him, he gave it everything, producing two documentaries for HBO about injured Iraq War soldiers and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Added Sopranos creator David Chase: “He was a genius. 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. I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.'”
Watch this touching tribute to some of Gandolfini’s most memorable moments on the big and small screens — also featuring moments from The Sopranos, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Killing Them Softly and more — now and tell Us: What will you miss most about this star?
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