We know him as Tony Soprano, the somewhat neurotic patriarch of the New Jersey crime family, whose own mother once put out a hit on him. James Gandolfini had been in a bunch of other films, his first memorable role being hit-man Virgil in True Romance.
News has come that he has died at 51, of an apparent heart attack, while vacationing in Italy.
Among the other projects Gandolfini was known for was HBO’s Alive Day Memories, a film of touching and inspirational interviews with US service members severely wounded in Iraq. Unlike a goodly portion of the Hollywood crowd, Gandolfini was by all accounts a decent guy, and his interaction with the Veterans he interviewed for the HBO special was eminently genuine. I viewed the film not long after its release, at a VA Scholars conference, and an attendee that was a part of making the film said Mr. Gandolfini was often in tears, and expressed unbound admiration for the Wounded Warriors he interviewed, both on and off camera.
A shame. Far too young, and, it seems, one of the good guys.