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James Gandolfini: How He Compared to Tony Soprano

For a murderous thug who made his living through extortion, theft and corruption, Tony Soprano was a remarkably easy guy to sympathize with. We felt the pain of his unhappy upbringing, of his frustrations with his coworkers, of the continual pressure to keep earning enough to afford the affluent suburban lifestyle to which his family had become accustomed. We were touched by his affection for the wild ducks that congregated in his swimming pool. When he went to a psychiatrist in the pilot episode and was forced to confront his struggle with depression, it felt painfully real to us. YouTube Preview Image

For that we can thank actor James Gandolfini, the star of HBO’s The Sopranos from 1999 to 2007, who managed to bring out the humanity in a violent mob boss and remind us that even an evil man can be beset by the same insecurities, frustrations and yearnings as the most mild-mannered solid citizen.James Gandolfini Sopranos

Here are some contrasts and similarities between Gandolfini, who died on June 19 of an apparent heart attack at the age of 51 in Rome, and the fictional character he made so memorable:

 

Photo: Barry Wetcher/HBO/Courtesy Everett Collection

 

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