James Gandolfini's Funeral: How David Chase and Others Eulogized the Late Actor
Friends and family of James Gandolfini gathered at New York's Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine Wednesday to pay their last respects to the late The Sopranos actor. (Gandolfini passed away June 19 in Italy following a heart attack.) Many famous faces were present at the funeral, including Gov. Chris Christie, Alec Baldwin, Brian Williams, Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Sopranos creator David Chase, and more members of the HBO family. Below, see excerpts from the funeral, attended by 1,500 guests, that toasted one of TV's greatest actors:
Chase, on what he once told Gandolfini he looked like (read Chase's full eulogy transcript here): "A sad boy, amazed and confused. You could see it in your eyes. That's why you were a great actor."
Chase: "I always felt we were brothers. We had different tastes, but there were things we both love: family, work, people in all their imperfection, food, alcohol, talking, rage and a desire to bring the whole structure crashing down."
Friend Thomas Richardson, referencing stories about Gandolfini's Katrina and Sandy charity work: "It seemed like he crammed 100 years of memories into his short life."
Deborah Lin Gandolfini, echoing her husband's charity work: "People mattered to him. He was always secretly helping someone."
Susan Aston, Gandolfini's dialogue coach: "He worked hard. He was disciplined. He studied his roles and did his homework." And when he was on screen, he took fans, "to an uncharted place," with his performance, she said.
Aston: "He used his brilliant mind to ask the questions that would prepare his heart for each scene."
Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski, on what he'd tell people who asked him why he loved The Sopranos: "If the violent gangster could get me to think about family and conflict, then maybe there is this thing called hope."
Chase, to Gandolfini: "You were a good boy."