“A Comet of a Man” – Hollywood Mourns James Gandolfini

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He may have played one of television’s most menacing anti-heroes, but the tributes which have flooded in for the Sopranos actor paint him as anything but.

James Gandolfini passed away after a suspected heart attack whilst in Rome, ahead of Sicily’s Taormina film festival, where he was to be the recipient of a special prize.

Often credited with reinventing the gangster role, Gandolfini’s first credited appearance came in Sidney Lumet’s 1992 film A Stranger Among Us. Gandolfini didn’t remain a stranger for long, however, as 1993 saw him offer forth a sample of what his imposing presence could contribute to a scene, as his deplorably amoral turn as Mafia enforcer Virgil, in Tony Scott’s True Romance, was unforgettably haunting. Roles in Get Shorty (1995), The Mexican, and The Man Who Wasn’t There (both 2001),  complimented Gandolfini’s rise to prominence through HBO’s The Sopranos, in which he played the eponymous New Jersey capo, Tony Soprano, between 1999-2006, his performances winning him the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series on three occasions. Recently, Gandolfini has appeared in Violet & Daisy (2011), Killing Them Softly, Zero Dark Thirty (both 2012) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), whilst his final film, Animal Rescue, is currently in post-production.

David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, dubbed Gandolfini a “genius” and “one of the greatest actors of this or any time.” His sentiments were echoed by a Hollywood in mourning, as Mark Ruffalo, who starred alongside Gandolfini in The Last Castle (2001) and Where the Wild Things Are (2009), summed up his poetic eulogy by labelling his co-star as “a comet of a man”, whilst the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Damon Wayans, John Cusack, Olivia Wilde, Patricia Arquette and Steve Carrel  all expressed their sadness at the news of his death, and appreciation of his life.

Gandolfini once mused “I’m an actor… I do a job and I go home. Why are you interested in me?” Well Jimmy, anyone who has seen one of your countless scene-stealing turns will be able to offer a resounding retort.

Rest in Peace James Gandolfini.

Joe Harvey is the news editor at Critics Associated.