The Best Character Of All Time

The news of James Gandolfini’s unexpected passing yesterday in Rome, Italy brought me to tears.  I’ll admit it, I’m not embarrassed, I believe I loved that man, the characters he’s played, but my favorite, my absolute tabloid like crush (like with most everyone else) was for Tony Soprano.

From the moment we started watching the show, we couldn’t get enough of it, and I couldn’t get enough of him.  I sat with my eyes bugged out wondering what Tony would do next – or not do.  He was always full of surprises, a complex character who, could be cruel, tenderhearted, thoughtful and compassionate, all in one show.  When the scenes didn’t include him?  I felt a tiny bit of separation anxiety.  🙂

Yesterday evening, and this morning too, it did me a world of good to hear the newscaster say that many women gravitated towards his character, this big lug of a mob boss with sensitivities,  (sensitive???), when he could shoot his closest friend…, his brother…or anyone else for that matter, all for the “business.”  I was thinking “phew!” so it’s not crazy to love someone so sick.

Of course I’m going on and on with the word love…my husband said, “it’s okay, honey.  I understand.”  (I think he had a man crush on him if he were honest with himself.)  Interestingly, it was only recently when I watched a segment on the History channel about the real mafia that I learned it was originally made of up five families who’d come here from Sicily and Italy.  They never referred to themselves as “the mafia,” or any other name commonly use by others.  (mob, organized crime)  No, It was always referred to “as this thing of ours.”

The show’s producers, as with any great show, had done their homework.  I remember hearing Tony’s character, as well as some of the other ones saying “this thing of ours…” when they they talked about setting up some part of the business, or had to discuss the problems within the ranks  – and there were plenty in that show.

I also learned that unless you were directly related by blood to one of those five original families, you couldn’t be part of the organization.  You could be a “director” (or maybe it was a manager – some common way of referring to a position within) but you couldn’t go through the formal ceremony of being “brought in.”

James Gandolfini’s ability to capture the essence of Tony Soprano was supreme, a gift, a rare talent and so natural that I sometimes wondered if he felt it was as easy as slipping his shoes on and off.  When writing, creating a character as multifaceted as that wouldn’t be easy, but if done well, you would have really have something, wouldn’t you?

R.I.P James Gandolfini


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