You know, besides Tumblr. Everyone's sad on Tumblr.
For those who don't know, television's greatest actor (sorry Bob Crane) recently passed away at the young age of 51 this week, when he was violently attacked while on vacation in Italy by his own heart. Sometimes you just can't trust those fuckers. To most people who met him, which, sadly, was not me, he was a gentle and honest man. To most of the world though, he was famous for playing a large, constantly angry Italian gangster who dealt with his stress by beating the piss out of other people and occasionally seeing a therapist. Naturally, it was generally regarded as the greatest thing to ever happen to television since the invention of the remote.
Just kidding, this thing sucks.
In playing the befuddled and stressed, but nonetheless badass mob boss Tony Soprano in the earlier part of the 2000s, Gandolf the James established a standard in TV performance that had simply not existed before, and became an overnight legend for turning HBOs The Sopranos into what was certainly the greatest television show of the time, if not all time. Yeah I said it, fuck The Wire (mild sarcasm, The Wire's fantastic). His show, and his presence on it, helped pave the way for more complex fare on television like Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and Justice League. Whereas before if you wanted to watch quality television you would have to watch shows like Frasier and reruns of Star Trek. I cannot imagine a greater hell. Granted, the series owed an equally large amount of thanks to the rest of the cast, including Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, and other people who are all both less talented and still alive, and so will receive no more credit on this particular post.
But we don't want this whole post to be just about Tony Soprano, who has been dead for going on five years now, if he died at all (I don't know what the ending was all about either). Mr. Gandolfini was much more than just a physically intimidating italian man, although this typecast proved difficult for the man to shake. It's not hard to see why; he once had a guest spot on Sesame Street where he talked to Zoey (and by extension, all of us) about things that are scary. It was a very sweet moment, but surreal at the same time; most of us would recognize that disarming smile of his as something we've seen multiple times before he proceeds to beat the shit out of someone who "went against the family". Even paparazzi exerted caution in harassing him, even though the actor himself has probably never hurt someone in his life. It's a moment that stuck out to me because I had never known beforehand just how much of a regular guy he was. He seems a man who cared deeply about his onscreen persona, while being careful to keep his offscreen identity separate. Indeed he was probably the single safest person on Sesame Street during his appearance.
If only because Elmo is completely psychotic
It might seem weird to say that the single saddest thing about the passing of a 51 year old actor is all the promise he showed, but its the truth. It seems in recent years he managed to break into Hollywood with an exciting vigor, appearing in films from the underrated comedy In the Loop to the more recent Zero Dark Thirty, as well as multiple indie films. While the performance that made him a legend will persist, and while it is an amazing performance, one can't help but think we never really got to know the guy.