Do you remember the abrupt ending of TV hit “The Sopranos” on HBO? It went of abruptly in the middle of a family dinner of the Soprano gang. It went off leaving you with questions. It went off leaving you wanting more. Much in the same way that the character who portrayed him, James Gandolfini, the man who took character acting to a new level did with his untimely passing on June 19, 2013.
Audiences tend to love a bad guy. It’s what keeps us watching. What will they do next? Who will challenge him? Will he succeed in his plot? The bad guys are the ones we love to hate and no one did that more so than James Gandolfini in the role of Tony Soprano. Or, did we hate Tony Soprano? Or, should we hate Tony Soprano may be more appropriate.
My family loves the movies and television. But I tend to shy away from the films and show that are “scary”. Not the shows with aliens, chain saw massacres or love struck vampires so much as the ones that show characters that are real. The films and TV shows that feature scary or downright evil characters that could be walking down the street next to you or living next door. And “The Sopranos” had that. “The Sopranos” was helmed by a character who personified realness and who went into the heart of darkness during its six season run. And somehow we and I found ourselves watching him and perhaps liking him despite it all.
James Gandolfini managed to show humanity in its most evil form and its sensitive, caring and even loving form in the role of Tony Soprano. In the role of Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini became a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as he struggled between the sides and personalities that lied within him. When he revealed the demons that he carried inside of him during his psychiatry sessions it made you feel for him, it made you like him. When he showed love for his family, the struggles he had as a parent it made you identify with him. And when he showed savagery in killing, adultery, racism and more it made you shudder.
The scariest thing about Tony Soprano and James Gandolfini’s portrayal of him is that he made you like him. It’s for you to decide if that is okay or not. But I think that we can all decide that as an actor particularly a character actor James Gandolfini was one of the best. In his performance as Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini never missed a beat and became one of the greatest television villains of our time.