Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Chase hails Gandolfini in eulogy

David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, with the late James Gandolfini
Edie Falco, who played Carmela Soprano, arrives at James Gandolfini's funeral
Joe Pantoliano played Tony Soprano's rival Ralph Cifaretto

The creator of The Sopranos hailed James Gandolfini as a great actor, who felt himself to still be a boy, as he paid tribute to him at his funeral in New York.

David Chase was one of four people who offered remembrances during the ceremony at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The others were his widow, Deborah Lin Gandolfini, and two family friends.

Chase recalled that Gandolfini once told him, "You know what I want to be? A man. That's all. I want to be a man." Chase said he marvelled upon hearing that, since Gandolfini represented a man so many others wanted to be.

Chase said: "You were a good boy. A sad boy, amazed and confused. You could see it in your eyes. That's why you were a great actor."

The 51-year-old actor, best known for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano in the HBO series, died of a heart attack last week while vacationing with his son in Italy.

Celebrities and fellow actors were in the audience, along with members of the public who wanted to salute Gandolfini's work.

The Sopranos stars in attendance included Edie Falco, who played his on-screen wife Carmela Soprano, Dominic Chianese, who played his Uncle Junior, Aida Turturro, who played his sister Janice and Joe Pantoliano, Steve Schirripa, Vincent Curatola and Michael Imperioli who all played fellow mobsters.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made an appearance, along with actor Alec Baldwin. Talk show host Dick Cavett chatted with actor Steve Buscemi near the front of the church before the ceremony started.

Some 1,500 seats were set up in the cathedral. A private family wake was held for the actor on Wednesday (June 26) in New Jersey. The public were allowed in after the invited guests.

Broadway theatres paid tribute by dimming their lights briefly on Wednesday night. Gandolfini was nominated for a Tony Award in 2009 as an actor in God of Carnage.

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