TODAY   |  June 20, 2013

Writer: James Gandolfini ‘changed television’

Brett Martin of GQ talks about what he and the late James Gandolfini discussed during an interview that appears in the magazine’s latest issue, saying the “depth and humanity” the actor brought to Tony Soprano “changed television forever.”

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

>> the july issue of " gq " magazine takes a look at the legacy of tony soprano and the toll the role may have taken on james gandolfini . it was written by " gq " correspondent, brett martin . good to see you

>> good to be here.

>> the title is called "the night tony soprano disappeared." fill me in on the title.

>> as we have been seeing all morning, james gandolfini as tony soprano is one of the greatest performances we may ever see on television. unfortunately, it was also really difficult on the actor. it was physically demanding and it was emotionally demanding to become tony every day. then when he left set, it's not like he could just disappear. he looked like tony soprano . so there was a price for that. and our story, which is the introduction to my book "difficult men," takes place at the very height of sopranos mania, several people around the production compared it to being around the beatles. gandolfini was sort of all four beatles. right in the middle of this, he went missing and disappeared for a few days.

>> and obviously, came back, was apologetic, as we heard from one of his co-stars this morning. i want to read you something from "new york" magazine, describe him in an article, tony soprano here, as a killer, a bully and a cheater and yet people found him likable. here is the quote. "the decent part of tony you can that stood out for the human potential dr. melfi tried to trace became out in gandolfini . his humanity showed through tony's rotten facade. when people sensed good in tony, it was james gandolfini they sensed." do you agree with that?

>> i once asked david chase what it had meant to find gandolfini and he leaked at me as though i was crazy. he said, it meant everything. what he brought to that roll, the depth and the humanity and kind of soulfulness as well as the ugliness and the anger it changed television forever, really.

>> i know you didn't interview him for this article but you had interviewed him in the past. what was the experience for you personally?

>> well, it was -- it was -- it was intimidating. he didn't like talking very much about his craft, like some actors very much enjoy talking about what they do. he was very diffident about that. he liked to say he was just a fat guy from jersey. but i think that that belied an enormous amount of intelligence and savvy about what he was doing.

>> obviously, a talent of talent. brett martin , thanks very much. the july issue of " gq " will be on news stands