We like our dramas writ large and they didn't come any larger than Tony Soprano.
A giant of a character who appalled and intrigued in equal measure.
You watched James Gandolfini's expression change from anger to despair in a breath and it was breath-taking.
When something's done well you don't notice it's being done. The writing in the Sopranos is some of the best writing for TV or film ever. But James Gandolfini, without doubt, took great writing and made it unforgettable watching.
How do you create and convey a man who's so despicable and yet so sympathetic? He really is a tragic figure, in the Shakepearean sense. He's brought down by a flaw. As Obama said: "If you can't see yourself in others ..."
Well, we saw ourselves, our own daily battles with our demons, in those deeply sad eyes of James Gandolfini. A giant who knew how small he was. RIP.