R.I.P., James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, “God of Carnage”, Broadway, 2009

Shockingly sad.

I wrote a tribute to James Gandolfini for Capital New York.

Too soon, dammit, too soon.

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7 Responses to R.I.P., James Gandolfini

  1. Amy says:

    I wept for quite a while this morning on hearing this news. I don’t think I’ve ever wept like that (or at all) on hearing of a celeb death. The good die young, indeed, and by all accounts that was what he was.

    I really liked MZS’s piece but yours was the one I was waiting for, Sheila.
    I’m glad you wrote specifically about “God of Carnage” because I really wanted to see that when I heard about it a few years back.

    The kicker for me: I was feeling extra sorry for myself this morning that I’d never got to see JG on stage. Then… someone brought up the 1992 revival of “Streetcar” with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin. Guess what – I SAW IT. However I have no recollection of JG as Mitch. AUGH. 20 years later, at least I can say that I certainly pay a lot better attention to character actors than I used to. You never know when you might lose a great one.

    • sheila says:

      Amy – how wonderful that you now know you saw him onstage! I imagine he was a heartbreaking Mitch. Perfect casting.

      Such a loss. So bummed out.

  2. Jane says:

    What a great tribute, Sheila. Too soon, indeed.

  3. Fiddlin Bill says:

    The most immediately memorable scene in True Romance is surely the Walken/Hopper one. The most chilling is surely the Gandolfini/Arquette one you describe in your tribute. And Arquette’s analysis of it is remarkable, and reminds me of the fight-to-the-death scene in Deadwood, where Swearengen’s muscle is left saddened and depressed by his victory. It is when these true multidimensional features of real life are captured in film that film rises above entertainment. This is why film, at its best, is not truly “fiction.”

    • sheila says:

      // And Arquette’s analysis of it is remarkable //

      I always thought so too. It brings the scene to another level. If you assume that Gandolfini’s character assumes that he will be the victor – sure, that’s one way to play it. But I am not convinced that that is the way he is playing it. He may THINK he will win, but she has shown surprising resilience, and in that moment, as he talks to her, maybe it occurs to him, “I may not be the winner today. And if she is going to kill me – she had better know what she’s in for.”

      If you watch the scene thinking of that, Gandolfini’s performance totally holds up. He’s almost gentle in his monologue, and he glances at her from time to time, in an advice-giving manner. Checking in, to make sure his points land.


      A fine actor.

      • sheila says:

        And I think, too, that he displays an almost existential level of not-giving-a-shit. Maybe he realizes he is ready to die.

        It gives the scene an extra motivational “oomph”.

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