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James Gandolfini Hailed For Realistic Death Portrayal

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Gandolfini in 2007.

Gandolfini in 2007.

Rome, Italy (AP) – The actor who garnered multiple awards for his role as a complex New Jersey mafia boss in the hit HBO series The Sopranos has wowed critics again with his convincing portrayal of a dead actor.

James Gandolfini, 51,  was vacationing in Italy and was scheduled to attend the Taormina Film Fest, when he gave an impromptu, tour de force performance as a heart attack victim and ceased all bodily metabolic activity. Long regarded as a gifted thespian, Gandolfini’s stock had remained high since his breakout role as Tony Soprano, and his achievements had left audiences and critics wondering whether he could sustain the dramatic artistry that came to define him.

With the heart attack, Gandolfini effectively put to rest any doubts as to his continued ability to throw himself completely into a character and channel his own emotional and physiological state into the acting.

“I’ve always said he’s comparable to Mozart,” said David Chase, who directed the HBO series. “But he wasn’t so convinced. I guess he needed to keep proving how talented he is. Truth is we didn’t need this convincing, but if this helps James feel better about his acting, more power to him.”

Chase said he had wondered whether Gandolfini would attempt to break out of the molds that had come to define the roles he was given, but admitted he did not see this move coming, especially right now. “You don’t usually see such forceful, top-flight acting when a guy isn’t in front of a camera or on a stage – yet another way in which James surprises us.” Gandolfini was relegated to character acting and minor roles in various films from when he began his acting career in 1987 until he became a bona fide star in 1999 with the start of The Sopranos. The series ran six seasons and won multiple Emmy awards, including three for Gandolfini as Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama. He was nominated for that award all six seasons.

Gandolfini was unavailable for comment.

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Written by Thag

June 20, 2013 at 9:23 am

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