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Will James Gandolfini ever be anything but Tony Soprano?

by Jane Boursaw, posted Aug 7th 2009 7:30PM
James Gandolfini in In the LoopI watched the feature film In the Loop the other day, a documentary-style comedy that looks behind the scenes of the British and U.S. governments. James Gandolfini plays Lt. Gen. George Miller, and all I could think was, "Hey, there's Tony Soprano in a U.S. military uniform." I think his character may have even said something along the lines of, "I'll break your kneecaps if..."

I know James Gandolfini has done a lot of projects since The Sopranos, but Tony Soprano is so cemented in my mind, I wonder if I'll ever see him as anything else. I have the same reaction when I see Steve Schirripa playing Leo on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. "Hey, that's Bobby Baccalieri!"

It makes me wonder what the secret is to an actor moving beyond an iconic role or TV show. Edie Falco's turn as Jackie Peyton on Nurse Jackie has almost made me forget about Carmela Soprano, I think because it's such a different character that she's already totally embraced.

What other actors have either done well moving beyond an iconic character, or quite possibly never will? And what do you think is the secret to moving on?

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It will probably be tough to shed the Tony Soprano image.

But if you watch Gandolfini in other films/shows he is different enough that it's almost hard to believe he was Tony Soprano.

That's called being a great actor, which he is.

August 08 2009 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tool's comment
Tom Williams

Go back and look at Gandolifini's character in "THE MEXICAN". That's no Tony Soprano.

September 01 2009 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe Joss Wheadon could design a series for him where he could play a different character every week [/sarcasm]

August 08 2009 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gandolfini seems unable to play beyond the Tony Soprano-like tough guy who jumps between quiet and ferocious. Although he does it so perfectly so why mess with it?

Edie Falco on Nurse Jackie doesn't make me think of Carmela due to her haircut. She looks nothing like Carmela, she looks like Ellen Degeneres.

Also of course there are film actors like Tom Cruise who seem unable to play anyone but themselves. When I saw Valkerye I didn't see a German officer, I saw Tom Cruise in a Nazi uniform. Same with Michael Cera there is no character, just the actor's persona. And Cera's persona is getting on my last nerve.

August 08 2009 at 2:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Cook is my Idol!

I don't care how much success he's had with Monk; I'll always think of Tony Shalhoub as Antonio from Wings.

Maura Tierney will always by Lisa from NewsRadio to me. I didn't care for her ER character too much.

August 07 2009 at 11:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Carroll O'Connor will never be anyone other than Archie Bunker to me.

August 07 2009 at 11:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Most of the stars from M*A*S*H were done as well after it went off the air.

August 07 2009 at 11:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

David Duchovny. Haven't even been able to watch Californification. I recently watched the whole Twin Peaks series and thought, 'Oh there's Mulder in a dress."

August 07 2009 at 10:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lol whenever I see Michael Cera in movies I always think "oh it's George Michael!". Granted he really doesnt play any different roles. Always the same neurotic smartass kid.

Whenever I see anyone from The Wire on any other tv show/movie I always say "oh it's Stringer Bell/Marlo/etc.!". It is my favourite show though so that comes into play haha

August 07 2009 at 10:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Erica H.

I watch that show, American teenager, and think.. Bobby.. did things go black yet?????? You see Gandolfini and all you think is the Sporano's. They have other mafia shows, but none as good as that first season of Soprano's. Even watching Entourage lately, and I am like, hmmm.. Meadow's dating turtle.. What would Carmela think????? Even those billboards for Carmela's new show. The first time me and my husband saw them, we were like look, Carm has her own show...

August 07 2009 at 9:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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