Actor James Gandolfini makes lasting impact in television drama

It’s been almost 7 years since the last episode of “The Sopranos” aired, and this quote is one of Tony Soprano’s memorable moments for me. It’s with great sorrow that I’m writing about the recently passed away actor who played Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini. With Gandolfini’s presence TV drama was set to new heights as HBO became the empire it is today.

Born and raised in New Jersey, James Gandolfini grew up in an all Italian household which emphasized the importance of its roots. Gandolfini would grow up acting in school plays and attending the University of Rutgers as a communications major.

It wasn’t until he moved to New York where the opportunity to act on stage became available. Years later, in 1999, Gandolfini would be approached by director David Chase to play the lead role of Tony Soprano in a mafia drama known as “The Sopranos.”

So, who was Tony Soprano? Was he a New Jersey mob boss, a manic depressive or a ruthless businessman?

He was all that and more. He was a legend. In many ways, Tony Soprano embodies the strengths and characteristics many of us pursue in our lives. For me his leadership to take stand and do what’s necessary became very admirable as I watched the show. Yet with all these qualities he possessed major character flaws showing to us that none of us are perfect and the road to success isn’t paved with gold.

Whether it was the “Godfather” references, the mafia lifestyle, or the pristine storyline that attracted me to “The Sopranos,” I’ll never know.

The show fostered a new type of television series, one that inspired the creation of shows such as “Mad Men,” and “Boardwalk Empire.” The direction of the series was dictated by the charisma of Tony Soprano. We loved him, and we hated him at times.

Today’s television lacks those little essences of perfection that shows like “The Sopranos” naturally possessed. It’s no doubt in my mind that Gandolfini had a lasting impact on the television series industry as he pushed the envelope of character complexity.

James Gandolfini wasn’t just Tony Soprano; he was an icon that would foster a new generation of drama and mafia entertainment. On and off the stage Gandolfini possessed an energy and passion for his line of work that few people obtain and many aspire to have. His commitment to “The Sopranos” was so strong that on one set he submerged himself in an ice bath to mimic the effects of food poisoning.

I was greatly saddened to know that an individual with such commitment and character has passed away. Upon watching the first season finale of “The Sopranos,” Tony is quoted for saying, “One day you will all have families of your own and when you do, enjoy the little moments.” It will be the little moments on screen that will live in timeless infamy for me and many others.