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James Gandolfini's 'Not Fade Away' performance honors late father

James Gandolfini said he recognized his character in David Chase's 'Not Fade Away' and says his performance is a homage 'to my old man.'

December 21, 2012|By Nicole Sperling, Los Angeles Times

Most recently he enjoyed his time filming Nicole Holofcener's new untitled romantic comedy opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus. "I don't get called for that kind of thing, you know, the parts when you get to kiss the girl. It's kind of like a buffalo kissing a rabbit when I'm kissing Julia, but it was nice that they gave the buffalo a chance."

Gandolfini has an air of self-deprecation, almost a sense of embarrassment over his chosen profession. When he talks about his Purple Heart-earning veteran father, he marvels at the man's unwillingness to tell his tales until very late in his life.

"If I was in the war, I'd be blabbing about it ad nauseum to anybody that would listen. I just remember looking at this guy going, wow," he said.

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Yet Gandolfini himself is a man who until recently was very reluctant to give interviews. He's still very careful to avoid any actory phrases that he fears will be self-aggrandizing.

"It's taken me awhile to come to terms with putting other people's pants on and pretending I'm someone else as a grown man," he said. "We are storytellers. There have been storytellers since the caves and people use them for learning. There's a reason for it. That's how I've slowly come to terms with it. When I was younger, I was angrier, I was shyer and it was all very new and I just didn't want to do it."

In between Gandolfini's film work and his potential new HBO series with Steve Zaillian, called "Criminal Justice," Gandolfini spends his time with his own family, which includes his 13-year-old son and his 2-month-old daughter.

That evening he was getting on a plane to Mantoloking, N.J., to help repair his sister's house, which needs to be gutted after Hurricane Sandy.

"We are going to take all the sheetrock out and throw away all the debris," said Gandolfini. "I'm going to bring my son. I want him to see it."

Until then, he will dutifully fulfill his role as an actor, posing agreeably with the photographer, though not without a bit of sheepishness.

"Don't put me in that chair," says Gandolfini about a low-slung leather sling. "I think I'll look like a toad — or at least like a large frog."

nicole.sperling@latimes.com

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