There’s no doubt that Tony Soprano is one of the roles that defined James Gandolfini’s career. So, it’s particularly shocking that he almost didn’t get the role. Fortunately, before he left us, James managed to lend his authenticity, his humor, his heart, and his horrendous darkness to what has ultimately gone down as one of the best television characters of all time. Of course, Tony Soprano was nothing without Carmela. And The Sopranos, in general, simply wouldn’t work without Edie Falco.
The chemistry between the two Emmy-winning actors was nothing short of amazing. While David Chase’s show was layer with nuance and emotional complexity, James and Edie found unique ways of approaching the material. Most important of all, the two had chemistry second to none. It’s only natural for fans to wonder how they managed to build their report. Was it conflict that create it? Was it lust? Or was it the fact that they just clicked? Here’s the truth…
What The Cast Of The Sopranos Thought Of James Gandolfini
David Chase knew that he had something special in James (Jim) Gandolfini. So much so that he pleaded with HBO to pay him the kind of money that Kelsey Grammer was getting for Frasier (which was just outlandish at the time). That’s not to say that James wasn’t getting paid a decent amount. It just wasn’t network TV money. James also had a habit of buying gifts for the cast and crew whenever he landed himself in the doghouse due to his plagued personal life. But despite the drama he could bring to the set, the cast and crew absolutely adored him. He was a truly kind man and his talent wasn’t of this world.
“Jim was a great actor and it was one of those rare times when a great actor and a great role coincides. He got the role that really allowed him to show the full scope of what he could do as an actor,” Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher, said in an oral history of The Sopranos by Deadline.
“To a large extent, a lot of us felt we did also. You have great actors who never find that great role, you never see their whole range, and the whole potential. The thing is about Jim was, it did come and he was always committed 100 percent.He never took any scenes for granted, and he just gave a lot. He gave a lot in life, like with his work with veterans, with the soldiers, and going to Iraq, and his dedication to his co-workers and to the crew. And was also just a lot of fun. We became very good friends and we had a very good time working and we trusted each other, and we enjoyed working together. The other thing is, we all enjoyed achieving a level of success that we didn’t have before we got together. We had all been kicking around a long time with various degrees of success, and then we hit on something that really struck a nerve. We never took it for granted.”
While James had numerous scenes with Michael and the crew that made up his gaggle of Italian-American mobsters, it was Edie Falco he shared the most important screentime with.
The Truth About James Gandolfini And Edie Falco’s Working Relationship
In the interview with Deadline, Edie Falco revealed that she too had a personal connection with James. And this lent itself to the unbelievable chemistry they had on-screen. This chemistry wasn’t something Edie or James could plan for. It just sort of happened…
“I don’t think any of us knew that he and I working together would be so satisfying,” Edie explained to Deadline. “I mean who knows, but Jimmy and I were so similar. We were both middle-class kids from the Tri-State area, who never had any ideas about us being fabulous. We were just hard workers and from my vantage point, he seemed to be similar to me in that we weren’t big talkers. We showed up and just did it. I do much better in an environment like that. I’m not great at talking about stuff. I would always much rather just do it.”
On top of having similar personality traits, as well as a similar approach to the craft of acting, both James and Edie came from Italian-American households and basically spoke the same language. This lent to the authenticity of many of the scenes, particularly when their kids, Meadow and AJ, were involved.
“[James] and I were also both Italian-American, so a lot of this stuff I think certainly for me, came from life,” Edie continued. “The Sunday dinner thing was something I grew up with. I knew what it felt like. A lot of the Italian family dynamic is something he and I had in our blood. I think the one word I can use to describe working with Jim was…easy. It was just easy. There was not a lot of thinking that went on, there was a lot of feeling.”
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