TODAY   |  June 20, 2013

‘Sopranos’ star: Gandolfini ‘one of the greatest’

Federico Castelluccio, who played the role of Furio on “The Sopranos” and New York Times media reporter Bill Carter discuss the life of actor James Gandolfini, who died in Italy Wednesday.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> cast lucio played the role of fuhr yo on "the sopranos "weekend a friend with gandolfini . bill carter interviewed gandolfini on several occasion. guys, good morning to both of you. you knew him, you covered him. there was a contradiction here, wasn't there? there was this hulking, imposing guy and every time i walked up to him and shook his hand, he seemed almost shy and timid.

>> avenues soft-spoken guy, a very warm guy though, i mean, he could -- when he hugged you, it was genuine. boy, he was a big character in talent and in physical impression he made on you.

>> i want to read you something that david chase , the creator of "the sopranos" said about him. both of you comment, please. he was a genius. anyone who saw him, even in the smallest of his performances knows that he is one of the greatest actors of this or any time a great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes . does that mean something to you?

>> that's true. absolutely. absolutely. i couldn't have said it better myself. james gandolfini was one of the greatest actors of our time. working with him, i learned so much. i mean, he was a really well nuanced actor. and there were a lot of layering in his work, you know?

>> behind the sad eyes .

>> lawrence olivier said film acting is about acting with your eyes that's what he did. his face was so expressive and he could do so much, conveying, you know, menace but also vulnerability, warmth, love for his children. he was very effective in the way he could convey that.

>> those eyes that you see on screen. there's an article in "gq" magazine, at times gandolfini went to dark places, the role burdened him in many ways and woe disappear around come bang and be a different guy. did you see this on the set, federico?

>> i did, actually. there was a time when we were supposed to shoot a scene where my character basically wants to kill him, throws -- wants to throw him into a propeller blade. and he disappeared. no one knew where he was for a few days. and it was -- it was his own. i mean, he wrote me a wonderful letter after that saying, you know, you were there for me and i wasn't there for you and i apologize but it's, you know, something that i needed to do

>> was it prepping for those intense moments? was it the burden of the fame? what was it do you think?

>> also and he had some demons. he wound up in drug rehab . did he have some problems dealing with his fame because i think he was a working actor. he believed himself to be just a guy who emerged with a career that he didn't expect.

>> but you say a working actor around yet i know you also feel as an actor who took on this role and brought it to tv, he changed the landscape for all dramatic actors on tv after that.

>> and in film. i really do think so if you think about the center pint of drama moved from movies to television after the "the sopranos" and great actor said i can do tv now, 'cause look what this guy was doing. he was dominating the whole dramatic field.

>> he will be missed. federico, our condolences to you on the loss of your friend. bill, always good to get your perspective, thanks. go over