The Jewish Side of James Gandolfini

Tony Soprano Knew He Was in a 'Very Jewish Business'

Meyer’s Racket: James Gandolfini, who died at 51, wasn’t Jewish. But he played one on the big screeen.
getty images
Meyer’s Racket: James Gandolfini, who died at 51, wasn’t Jewish. But he played one on the big screeen.

By Nathan Abrams (Haaretz)

Published June 20, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

At the time of his death, he had been working on an upcoming HBO series “Criminal Justice” and had two motion pictures due out next year.

“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” HBO said in a statement. “He was a special man, a great talent, but more importantly, a gentle and loving person who treated everyone, no matter their title or position, with equal respect.”

Gandolfini began his career as a stage actor in New York and went on to earn a Tony nomination for his role in the original 2009 Broadway cast of the black comedy “God of Carnage.”

He shared Tony Soprano’s Italian-American heritage and New Jersey roots, but the actor was known for a reserved demeanour off-camera and generally shied away from publicity.

In the HBO series, Gandolfini created a gangster different from any previously seen in American television or film. He was capable of killing enemies with his own hands but was prone to panic attacks. He loved his wife, Carmela, played by Edie Falco, and was a doting father, but he carried on a string of affairs.

He regularly saw a therapist, portrayed by Lorraine Bracco, to work out his anxiety problems and issues with his mother.

By the start of the show’s final season, Gandolfini suggested he was ready to move on to more gentle roles once his TV mobster days were over.

“I’m too tired to be a tough guy or any of that stuff anymore,” he said. “We pretty much used all that up in this show.”

CRITICAL ACCLAIM

The program, which earned Gandolfini three Emmy Awards as best lead actor in a drama series, was considered by many critics the finest drama to have aired on U.S. television.

The series was a major factor in establishing HBO, a pay-cable network once focused on presentations of feature films, as a powerhouse of original dramatic television and in shifting the kind of sophisticated storytelling once reserved for the big screen to TV.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.