James is best recognized as the big and bad shot-caller "Tony Soprano" from The HBO original series "The Sopranos." After earning his college degree in 1983, Gandolfini headed to New York to study at the Actors Studio. Supporting himself for almost ten years as a bartender and nightclub manager, Gandolfini's major break came in 1992 with a role in a Broadway version of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange, and his film debut in Sidney Lumet's A Stranger Among Us. Following small parts in several 1993 films, including the Quentin Tarantino-scripted True Romance, Gandolfini played more substantial roles as one of the heavies in Terminal Velocity (1994), Geena Davis' neighborhood boyfriend in Angie (1994), one of the submarine crew in Crimson Tide (1995), and a stuntman-turned-Mob enforcer in Get Shorty (1995). Equally gifted at playing characters on either side of the law, Gandolfini appeared as the violent neighbor who assaults Robin Wright Penn in She's So Lovely (1997) and a cop in Lumet's legal drama Night Falls on Manhattan (1997). Gandolfini played supporting roles in several more films, including Fallen (1998) and A Civil Action (1998), before he was cast as the head of a dysfunctional Mafia family in The Sopranos. Anchored by Gandolfini's superbly-nuanced performance as Prozac-popping, mother-bedeviled capo Tony Soprano, The Sopranos was hailed as a TV masterpiece for its alternately funny, surreal and deadly-serious look at New Jersey Mob life. Though he was passed over for the Emmy, Gandolfini won the SAG and Golden Globe Awards for Lead Actor in a TV drama for The Sopranos' 1999 season. During the series break, Gandolfini appeared as a slimy pornographer in 8MM (1999).
Gandolfini finally added the Emmy to his trophies in 2000 for the second season of The Sopranos. Despite the inevitable criticism about the series' sophomore slump, there was no question as to Gandolfini's continuing excellence as the New Jersey Mob paterfamilias. Gandolfini followed his Emmy triumph with a supporting role as a gay hit man in The Mexican (2001), easily stealing the film from co-stars Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. Even as he was earning The Mexican's few good notices in theaters, Gandolfini was garnering still more plaudits for The Sopranos' controversial third season, as Tony's increasingly delinquent son elicited anguished soul-searching from Tony about his legacy. Though his third Emmy nomination spoke to his formidable TV presence as Tony, Gandolfini also further burnished his movie credits with a small part in Joel Coen and Ethan Coen's Cannes Film Festival award winner The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), and a major starring role as a corrupt Army colonel who goes head-to-head with Robert Redford's incarcerated general in The Last Castle (2001). James was born on September 18, 1959 in New Jersey.
More fun stuff about James Gandolfini
Has been reportedly spotted out in New York drinking vodka despite declaring last year he had quit alcohol.
Acclaimed mob drama THE SOPRANOS has been renewed for a 10-episode run beyond the upcoming fifth season that premieres next March.
Is taking care of his TV mob family THE SOPRANOS to the tune of $500,000 -- Gandolfini last week gave five-figure checks to more than a dozen fellow cast members; he wanted to acknowledge that the show's success hinges on the strength of its ensemble cast.
Is already in trouble with his new girlfriend just months after dumping his wife for her -- According to a New York tabloid Gandolfini’s love of partying with attractive women is causing friction with Lora Somoza.
Pulled a Mafia-style trick at a charity bash to get the staff to carry on serving -- Organizers at the party in New York's trendy 24 restaurant had told him that the $420-a-head fundraiser was over because the staff weren't paid overtime, but the furious actor demanded that they keep working, and ordered a meeting to discuss the problem.
Gandolfini and HBO have cooled their rhetoric over Gandolfini's salary demands for a reported $16 million for a fifth season as America's favorite mob boss and were close to an offer THE SOPRANOS star can't refuse -- An HBO spokeswoman confirmed that the network was waiting for the withdrawal of the lawsuit to begin direct negotiations with Gandolfini, whose portrayal of the complex mobster Tony Soprano has earned him and HBO numerous awards and a devoted audience.
HBO and the producers of THE SOPRANOS filed a $100 million countersuit against Gandolfini in the same Los Angeles Superior Court where he sued to get out of his contract last week -- Bert Fields, the attorney for HBO and Soprano Productions, said that the actor had been properly informed about new filming and that Gandolfini's suit is frivolous and only a negotiating ploy in the actor's part.
Filed a lawsuit against HBO, seeking a release from his THE SOPRANOS contract -- A source close to Gandolfini said the actor believes he is underpaid relative to other small-screen stars, and that he would like to return for a fifth season if a deal can be reached.
Has demanded a massive 50 per cent pay rise to return for a fifth series of THE SOPRANOS.
Gandolfini and his estranged wife Marcy are close to a deal to end their marriage amicably – the actor filed for divorce in March.
Gandolfini, immersed in a divorce from his wife of three years, has admitted he once struggled with drug and alcohol abuse.
Playing the New Jersey mob boss on the HBO series, THE SOPRANOS, he has made another commercial for Rutgers football, even though his first effort last year in 2001 failed to change the team's fortunes. In the ad, Gandolfini assures his pals they will have great seats at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway for a Rutgers football game.
His sister Johanna is a prominent official with the New Jersey Family Court system.
"Sopranos"star James Gandolfini's long-suffering fiancee has whacked the couple's wedding plans. Lora Somoza tells The ENQUIRER in an exclusive interview that she has moved out of the HBO mobster's New York City loft, and has gone home to Los Angeles to care for her Alzheimer's-stricken grandmother. "Love does not always conquer all," said Somoza, a movie production assistant. "Jim is a great guy, but we are no longer together. I have moved to California so I can be close to my grandmother. She has Alzheimer's and needs plenty of care.
"I will always remain friends with Jim. Right now, there are other things in my life that I have to deal with." But sources say there is more to the split than that - the couple's wedding was already postponed once because of the actor's substance abuse problems and his cozy relationship with his ex-wife Marcy. "It is often difficult to get married soon after a divorce," said a friend of the couple. "That's what has happened to Lora and James." Somoza confirmed the 13-month engagement was over after reports placed Gandolfini with a stunning Asian woman during a pre- Golden Globes bash at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles. Asked who his mystery date was, he replied jokingly, "This is my mudda." He later caused tongues to wag when he reportedly swapped numbers with actress Jacqueline Bisset. When contacted by The ENQUIRER, Gandolfini's manager insisted that the actor is not involved with either woman. "He's not dating Jacqueline Bisset," the manager said."They just had a conversation. The Asian woman is an old friend." Gandolfini's four-year romance with Somoza has been shaky for some time, however. As The ENQUIRER reported in February 2004, a friend said Somoza accepted the TV don's marriage proposal, only after he promised to stay sober. In May 2004, we told readers that their summer wedding was off because he had fallen off the wagon. And we revealed that the romance took another hit in September because Gandolfini was getting friendly with ex-wife Marcy, the mother of his son Michael, 5.
Somoza, who does fund-raising for Alzheimer's did not address those issues, but she told The ENQUIRER: "There are some people who are meant to be together and some who are not. "That is how it is for Jim and me. He is filming for a whole year and I have to concentrate on helping my family. "Jim and I realized we were living different lives. There was no vicious bustup. Of course there were tears, but we are still friends."
Tony Soprano, Paulie Walnuts visit troops
Even TV mobsters have a soft spot for U.S. troops serving abroad. James Gandolfini and Tony Sirico of HBO's The Sopranos are on a USO-Armed Forces Entertainment tour in the Persian Gulf, the USO said Wednesday.
Gandolfini, who stars as mob boss Tony Soprano, and Sirico, who plays Paulie Walnuts, are signing autographs, posing for pictures and watching movies with the troops, the organization said.
The trip is part of the USO-AFE tradition of bringing celebrities to the "front lines" of combat activities, the USO said. Among those who have participated this year are Wayne Newton, 50 Cent, Toby Keith, Tom Green and Rob Schneider.
It was not clear whether the actors visited Iraq. For security purposes, details about the trip were being withheld, including specific locations they were visiting and how long they were in the region, USO spokeswoman Donna St. John said.
Mafiosos, millions and The Mexican: James Gandolfini talks
Playing the murderous, sensitive suburban Mafia boss on HBO's Emmy-winning series The Sopranos has made Jersey-born character actor James Gandolfini an
Julia Roberts personally picked him to play the gay hit man who kidnaps her character in The Mexican, he's in the next Coen brothers movie, he has a role in Robert Redford's military prison drama The Castle and he makes an eight-figure salary from a day job whose critical and popular acclaim has surprised everybody.
Now, as The Sopranos begins its third season, its star is still trying to come to terms with what it all means. But while Gandolfini may not be sure what's happening to him, unlike Tony Soprano he feels pretty good about it.
Give away all the surprises in store for the third season.
Sure, I'll tell you. Tony comes out [laughs], and...No, it's a lot about various forms of parenting; let's put it that way. It's not really all that interesting, but that's all I can really tell you.
You seem like such a natural fit as Tony Soprano. Do you like playing him because you can relate?
I like the various aspects of the role. One day, it's with my wife, my son. The next day, it's some argument with some guy from New York or something. I've been very lucky in playing a character who has so many sides, but it starts from someplace I know about. It's an Italian guy from New Jersey who is a bit of a nut, so it's a match. It's easy for me with that kind of writing. Well...it's not easy, but it's a good fit in a lot of ways.
Except for a preference or two, the guy you play in The Mexican isn't far from that, either.
I didn't have a lot of time. I could've done a film I had to do a lot of research for, but I thought that would be putting a lot of pressure on the character just to do something different for me.
Basically, I wanted to keep the same kind of rhythm, so I could just do this in a good way and then go back to Tony and not have to make myself completely insane...which I felt was a good choice.
Have you ever been in therapy, like Tony?
No, but soon...
Did you have any idea The Sopranos was going to be so successful when you first signed on?
None. I liked the script, and the cast was good, but I thought maybe they'd put us on at 1:30 at night or sometime later in the evening. I didn't think it would be such a big, big hit.
Ever hear from any real Mob guys about the show?
I don't want to go into that. It's not worth it.
Okay. What about fan mail from prisons?
No, I haven't gotten any prison letters. I'm kinda bummed about that, now that you mention it.
So, now that the show has made you rich, you've moved into a superexclusive Jersey suburb.
I needed to get out of the city a little bit. Also, my son was afraid of grass. He was a year and nine months, and you put him in grass, and he was like, "Aaaaah," and I was like, "Whoa, we've got to get him out--he only knows concrete." That freaked me out a little bit, so I said, "Let's move."
It's a small town near a state park in the middle of the woods, and a lot of big shots live around there, so that's what they put in the paper. Steve Forbes--you know who that is? Apparently, he lives within 5 to 10 miles of us. I didn't know anything about that.
Has he introduced himself?
Yeah, he came over with a cake. And no, I don't know where he lives or anything about him. I just bought the house.
You got into acting later than most people do--after you got out of college.
I guess I started when I was 25 or so, and I was running nightclubs in New York City and bartending. A friend took me to an acting class, and I was scared to death, and that really angered me--so I stayed. I don't know why. It was just nerve-racking, and that really pissed me off. But I also saw a lot of intensity there. It got my blood going--so I thought it could be a good thing to do.
Gandolfini Wants Out of "Sopranos"
Fans may have to fuhgeddabout a fifth season of The Sopranos.
Actor James Gandolfini, who plays mob boss Tony Soprano on the HBO hit series, filed suit against the cabler Thursday in California Superior Court seeking declaratory relief that would free him from being obliged to return for the next season of the show, Variety reports.
The lawsuit alleges that Gandolfini was not properly notified within 10 days after HBO agreed to pay Sopranos creator David Chase $20 million for the show's fifth season, which is scheduled to begin shooting March 24.
Gandolfini claims this is a violation of his contract and wants to be free of the pact. The actor also claims the contract would exceed the seven-year limit for personal services contracts by the time a sixth season was ordered.
The burly Sopranos star receives about $400,000 an episode under a deal renegotiated after the first season of "The Sopranos," according to Variety, which follows roughly in line with stars like Martin Sheen of NBC's The West Wing but far below the $1.6 million per episode paid to Kelsey Grammer for NBC's Frasier.
Several other actors on The Sopranos, including Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico and Jamie Lynn Sigler, have recently renegotiated their contracts in recent months, according to reports in industry trade publications.
The suit took HBO executives, who were in the midst of sweetening Gandolfini's deal for the upcoming season, by surprise. An HBO spokeswoman told Variety, "This is nothing more than a further renegotiation tactic by an actor with a binding contract."
James Gandolfini, Fiancee Decide to Split
James Gandolfini and fiancee Lora Somoza have split. Gandolfini, star of HBO's "The Sopranos," had been engaged to Somoza, a writer, since January 2004. While Gandolfini lives in New York, Somoza has moved to Los Angeles, where her grandmother is ailing. "It was not a case of one dumping the other, as some have reported," Mark Armstrong, the actor's manager, told The Associated Press Friday. "It was very mutual."
Gandolfini, 43, was married to Marcy Wudarski for three years. They divorced in 2002. He stars as Tony Soprano in the HBO drama, which is set to begin shooting a new season in April.
James Gandolfini Split With Lover Confirmed
GANDOLFINI'S GIRL CONFIRMS SPLIT RUMOURS
JAMES GANDOLFINI's lover LORA SOMOZA has confirmed she has called off the couple's engagement and left the actor's New York home to care for her sick grandmother.
The couple mysteriously postponed their planned wedding last summer (04), and now the romance is over as Somoza, a movie production assistant, concentrates her efforts on playing nurse to her gran, who suffers from Alzh eimer's disease.
She tells American tabloid NATIONAL ENQUIRER, "Jim is a great guy, but we are no longer together. I have moved to California so I can be closer to my grandmother.
"I will always remain friends with Jim. Right now, there are other things in my life that I have to deal with.
"Jim and I realised we were living different lives. There was no vicious bust-up. Of course there were tears, but we are still friends."
The couple started dating in 2000 after THE SOPRANOS star split from his wife MARCY. They were engaged early last year
James Gandolfini is Joey One-Way
James Gandolfini will star in Joey One-Way, based on Joel Rose's crime novel "Kill Kill Faster Faster," reports Production Weekly. Gareth Roberts directs the film that's scheduled to begin shooting in Dublin, Ireland for six weeks in late spring. Robert Carlyle and Rosario Dawson are also in talks to join the project.
After spending more than seventeen years in prison, Joey One-Way (Gandolfini) believed that there was only one way he was getting out, and that was in a box. But that's now exactly how it plays. While serving time, Joey wrote a jailhouse drama that became a Broadway sensation.
Now, big-time producer Markie Mann is staking his reputation to spring and back Joey, counting on him to turn his scripts into Hollywood gold. Joey wants nothing more than to do right by Markie. So it's too bad that he falls so hard for Markie's young wife, Fleur. Now Joey is heading for trouble at high velocity.