For Millennials. By Millennials.
There’s little doubt that Tony Soprano is the greatest character ever on TV, if not on any screen. But, it is James Gandolfini and his brilliance that breathed life into Tony. His performance on screen is nothing short of an enigma, with everyone from Brad Pitt to Diane Lane praising his brilliance endlessly. Recently, Lorraine Bracco gave us a glimpse of how ridiculously brilliant Gandolfini was while shooting The Sopranos.
How James Gandolfini’s performances left Lorraine Bracco in awe
In the recent episode of the Talking Sopranos podcast, it was impossible to not bring James Gandolfini up when you have Lorraine Bracco as a guest. Bracco says that the vast majority of her scenes were only with Gandolfini. And sometimes, he would just go on these long monologues, narrating all of his dialogue in one go. It would leave her speechless to see Gandolfini do that so effortlessly. She said:
I didn’t have all you guys, I just had him (Gandolfini). Sometimes, he would ask for the film to be really long, so he could do most of his part like in a monologue. He would ask for four or five minutes to have on the camera so he could just, like one thought. And once in a while, I would catch myself not being Dr. Melfi, but just being Lorainne Bracco watching this actor in awe.
This just demonstrates the sheer brilliance of James Gandolfini as an actor. Going on these monologues, even when you have the luxury to cut the shot is spectacular. But, he wasn’t always this graceful on the set.
How he teased Bracco with a little strip show
Apart from being a brilliant actor, James Gandolfini also had a lot of fun on set. For instance, Bracco recalls that when it was time to shoot her scenes, Gandolfini would just take his clothes off and tease Bracco, making her lines miserable. She recalls:
He would do lots of things with his hands and tongue and mouth and nobody could see him except for me. It would be like, excuse me, he’s doing things. And they were like, oh Lorraine, come on, let’s go. Meanwhile, he (Gandolfini) would take his pants off, show me his tooshie… I would be like, put that away, stop it! (laughingly) And I’m the one who always got in trouble.
This is just the kind of person that James Gandolfini was. Very serious at his own trade, but knew how to have fun on set as well. In fact, he treated every one of the cast members like family. So much so that he even once paid $33,000 to each of them when they didn’t receive their bonuses from HBO. Moreover, he helped everyone become better actors as well, as Steven Van Zandt said that whenever you do a scene with Gandolfini, you always walked away as a better actor.