"I am not much like him (Tony Soprano).
I am more like a 260 pound Woody Allen."....- James Gandolfini
James Gandolfini did try....from college student to bartender and bouncer, one day he decided to give acting a shot, and the rest is history. From Broadway to TV, small film roles, back to TV (in a big way as Tony Soprano on "The Sopranos"), and on and on, his career was 27 years of good, solid acting.
One of the more striking notes about his death is the fact that he died from sudden cardiac arrest. I could not help but remember that is exactly how his most well known character Tony Soprano went, as well. Suddenly. Lights out. Gone. End of story.
Also, ironically on IMDB the most recent project listed for James is a TV movie called "Big Dead Place".
Jim, as his friends called him, made his Broadway debut in the small part of Steve Hubbell in the 1992 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange. He was also seen as Charlie Malloy on Broadway in the short-lived 1995 stage version of the film On the Waterfront.
What you might not have known about James Gandolfini....
He played the trumpet and saxophone.
Although he often played thuggish or brute characters, he is actually somewhat of a pacifist off-stage; he had reservations about continuing his production contract as Tony in "The Sopranos" (1999) due to the show's violent content and stereotype of Italian-Americans.
Well trained in Krav Maga, (an Israeli style of Martial Arts) which he practiced for 2 1/2 years.
Was voted "best-looking" in high school
Has often said Robert De Niro played a considerable role in his decision to become an actor; grew up watching Mean Streets (1973) over and over again.
Nominated for the 2009 Tony Award for Best Performance for a Leading Actor in a Play for "God of Carnage", Gandolfini won other major awards such as three Emmy Awards and five Golden Globes.
Known to be a shy man, uncomfortable being a "celebrity".
I just don't think I'm that interesting. I don't think what I have to say is that interesting. To hear me go, 'Blah, blah, blah, blah'. - on why he rarely does interviews
He left behind two children. A teen son and a baby daughter.
James was considered for the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction (1994). He starred in five films with lifelong friend John Travolta.
Personal quotes - James Gandolfini...(excerpts from IMDB.com)
I thought, I've never been the lead before. They're gonna hire somebody else. But I knew I could do it. I have small amounts of Mr. Soprano in me. I was 35, a lunatic, a madman. - on his reaction to "The Sopranos" pilot script.
It's been a great opportunity, but I don't have much trepidation about it ending. I think it's more than time. Part of the fun of acting is the research, finding out about other people. As much as I've explored this guy, I don't know what else to really do with him. I've been in one place for 10 years. That's enough. It's time for me to do other things. - about ending "The Sopranos"
I dabbled a little bit in acting in high school and then I forgot about it completely. And then at about twenty-five I went to a class. I don't think anybody in my family thought it was an intelligent choice. I don't think anybody thought I'd succeed, which is understandable. I think they were just happy that I was doing something.
My favorite role of James was as Big Dave Brewster in "The Man Who Wasn't There", this is because it is the role least like the type he usually played.
James IMDB page: