James Gandolfini: The Real Life of the Man Who Made Tony Soprano is the first biography of the actor who died, in June 2013 at age 51, widely recognized as one of the best―and most defining―actors of his generation. The book is informed by fresh interviews with Sopranos actors, the star's acting teachers and coaches, his childhood friends, buddies from his days as a nightclub bouncer, and Hollywood figures including the directors of his posthumously released films.
Bischoff decodes Gandolfini's portrayal of mobsters and bad guys from his breakout role in True Romance with Patricia Arquette to the television series role that made his career, and his portrayals of real people like Leon Panetta in Zero Dark Thirty. Gandolfini's personal life--from his marriages and family interactions to his deep friendships with his fellow cast members―enriches and enlivens this book, and deepens our understanding of the star.
James Gandolfini: The Real Life of the Man Who Made Tony Soprano is a fascinating look at Gandolfini's complicated relationship to his roots, to the role that made him wealthy beyond his imagination, and to American notions of masculinity, power and fame. Even as he scaled the heights of his profession, creating a TV character as vivid as Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker and as volcanic as Marlon Brando's Stanley Kowalski, Gandolfini remained a reluctant celebrity dedicated more to his craft than to his career.
James Gandolfini: The Real Life of the Man Who Made Tony Soprano delivers a textured, multilayered portrait of the on- and off-screen life of a complex, talented man who rose from an Italian immigrant family in northern New Jersey to join the ranks of America's most iconic actors.
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DAN BISCHOFF is the award-winning art critic for the Star-Ledger, where he has been covering art and culture in New Jersey and New York since 1996. Previously, as the chief political and investigative editor at The Village Voice, he developed pieces that won several awards. Bischoff's writing has been published in the Voice, Mother Jones, The Nation, The San Francisco Chronicle, The St. Petersburg Times, ARTnews, The Deal, CBS MoneyWatch.com, and elsewhere. He lives in South Orange, New Jersey.From Booklist :
Gandolfini, who died of cardiac arrest in June 2013, gets the quickie-bio treatment in this slick but superficial book. Readers who know Gandolfini only as New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano might glean some interesting info from the book, but it’s the kind of info— the actor’s early roles, his childhood, his self-admitted perfectionist and self-destructive habits—they could also find, as Bischoff apparently has, in previously published interviews and articles. Quotes, including many from Gandolfini himself, are either unattributed or drawn from published sources (there is some original material here, but it comes from people on the periphery of the actor’s life and provides only a small amount of fresh insight). On the other hand, this is a respectful book. Bischoff clearly admires his subject and has no interest in filling his book with tawdry rumors, gossip, and would-be myth-shattering revelations. It’s a shame this isn’t an “official” biography (the author notes it was written without the cooperation of Gandolfini’s family), because the author might have been able to make it something more memorable. As is, the book is a solid recycling of information readers can find elsewhere; the definitive biography of the actor remains to be written. --David Pitt
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