5 Underrated James Gandolfini Roles

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Beloved actor James Gandolfini has passed away at the age of 51 while on a trip to Italy with his teenage son. Gandolfini’s untimely death has shocked Hollywood and the outpouring of kind words have demonstrated just how revered the man who played ‘Tony Soprano’ truly was.

Gandolfini was an acting giant, a true on-screen talent that was so much more than just a pay-cable mobster. Though his groundbreaking role on HBO’s “The Sopranos” will always define him, Gandolfini made an impression with each and every role he stepped into. And while you may not remember them all as clearly as Tony, they are all worth going back and watching again.

5 Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Devoted fans of the beloved children’s book were probably hesitant when they heard it was being made into a CGI live-action film. They were probably even more hesitant when they heard that Tony Soprano was going to be the voice of Carol, the story’s most noteworthy ‘Wild Thing.’ But true to his talent, Gandolfini, however unexpected of a casting choice he may have been, offered an emotional and heartfelt performance and wound up the bright spot of the film in many critic’s eyes.

4 The Last Castle (2001)

A movie that fell short in some aspects, “The Last Castle” still featured some genuinely moving performances, including James Gandolfini’s turn as Col. Winter, the warden of the military prison that houses court-martialed Lt. General Eugene Irwin, played by Robert Redford. The scenes between Gandolfini and Redford are electric, as Gandolfini is at times deferential and at times corrupt and authoritative. And watching him struggle and crumble under what eventually becomes a full on prison uprising led by Redford, is truly impressive.

3 In the Loop (2009)

In another film that is tragically overlooked, the 2009 political satire “In the Loop” proved that Gandolfini could actually be quite funny. Given the chance to flex his comedic muscles, Gandolfini proved he could carry his weight in a verbal spat with anyone, and was probably the film’s most likeable character for it. In a film where everyone seems to be trying to start a war, Gandolfini is a Lt. General who wants nothing more than to avoid it, and if for no other reason, you should watch it for the chance to hear him refer to someone as a “squeezed dick.”

2 The Mexican (2001)

This movie had its fair share of issues, but it also had its moments—many of which were provided by James Gandolfini. With Brad Pitt playing a hapless low-level gangster and Julia Roberts playing his fickle and self-improvement obsessed girlfriend, Gandolfini stole the show as the hitman who kidnaps Roberts. He is surprisingly vulnerable and carries the most impressive scene in the film when he comes to a surprising revelation while eating at a diner with his kidnap victim.

1 True Romance (1993)

It was in this Tony Scott directed, Quentin Tarantino penned film that Gandolfini perhaps first showed signs of what would eventually make him the perfect leading man to carry “The Sopranos.” “True Romance” is an often-overlooked film, but has a lot of greatness to offer, including Gandolfini’s menacing turn as Virgil, the henchman to Christopher Walken’s Vincenzo Coccotti. Seeing a young Gandolfini playing his first memorable villain is a reminder of just how powerful the actor could be.

TK Kelly is a comic and writer who has performed at clubs across the country like the Comedy Store, the Improv, Gotham, and Standup NY. He has also written for Tosh.0, Comedy Central Studios, Funny or Die, Recycled Babies Sketch Comedy, and Second City. His standup comedy has been described as “a thing that happens sometimes,” and according to one of his grandmothers, he is a generally delightful young man. If he were forced at gunpoint to describe himself in one word, that would be a really weird hostage situation.

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