As a huge lifelong fan of film and television I have been influenced by many characters over the years. In fact I specifically try to learn from and emulate the ones I find to be the best. The number one character in this department is Hank Hill from King of the Hill. Hank is specifically the man I want to be the most like but in the greater scheme of things there are elements from a number of different characters I try to take things from. One of the guys at the top of that list after Hank is Tony Soprano. I literally have a big Sopranos picture in my office at work with James Gandolfini standing front and center as Tony Soprano. Like many other people I was a huge fan of The Sopranos and Tony Soprano made a significant impact on me as a person. I pick and choose what I like with all characters and there is plenty to take from Tony Soprano. I would never do many of the things he did on the show such as cheat on my wife, organized crime, and of course murder. The way Tony carries himself, the power he wields, and just being a badass in general are all things I have tried to learn from and emulate.
I specifically remember a time when I found myself dealing with someone difficult at work and I did what I like to think of as “Tony Soprano intimidation.” I starred at the person intently and quietly while beginning to breathe heavier and being impassible until the other person spoke. To my surprise that actually worked and I got what I was after. I only did that one time actually, but want to keep it that way because if it didn’t work a second time the “Tony Soprano Method” wouldn’t seem as legendary in my story line. Years ago I started drinking liquor straight with no mixer or chaser any time I drank it. I am young and this isn’t something most people my age do and when someone takes notice I always respond “that’s how Tony does it and he was a badass.” I have also emulated Tony Soprano’s love of animals to a degree from time to time. Most notably with a Robin that built a nest on the side of my house against the gutter drain and had babies. Amber regularly asked me to get rid of it but I refused because this same bird comes back every year and has babies in that nest. I think of her like Tony’s ducks and even named the bird Carmella after Tony’s wife on the show. Tony Soprano may have been a bad guy, but he was a badass and there is always room to be more badass in life. I like to keep a delicate balance of trying to be as badass as possible while still being a good and honest person. I take the lessons on being a badass from Tony Soprano, among others, but maybe none quite so much. He was a great character and the loss of the actor who portrayed him is unfortunate and so disappointing.
I have liked a lot of the work Gandolfini did outside of The Sopranos but none of it was as significant in the scope of what he accomplished on the show. I was a bit angry at Gandolfini for no longer wanting to portray the character when the show was winding down and for not taking part in interviews for the DVD collection specials. This makes his death even more unfortunate because we will never eventually hear his thoughts on the character or his reflection on the show. Nevertheless Gandolfini will live on forever with the work he put in as one of the most awesome characters to ever appear in a television show. I will mourn the loss of him and what else he might have accomplished with the rest of his life. At the age of 51 he still had plenty of potential to do great things with the years that should have been ahead of him. R.I.P. James Gandolfini, I will miss him, and I am not alone in feeling that loss.
Here is an image of the picture on display in my office. I had no intention of ever taking it down and will now specifically keep it up to honor the memory of a man whose performance has had a significant influence on me personally.