James Gandolfini: Why He Didn’t Think He Could Play Tony Soprano

It’s impossible to imagine anyone but James Gandolfini playing Tony Soprano, but the late actor initially questioned if he was right for the now-iconic TV role.

Back in 2004, the usually media-shy actor appeared on Bravo’s “Inside the Actors Studio” where he spoke to host James Lipton about his doubts.

“I really thought they would pick someone different,” he said. “[Someone] suave, Mafioso, good looking guy… Just someone a little more leading man type.”

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The actor thought during audition process that he had approached it all wrong.

“At one of the auditions, half way through I said, ‘No, I’m not doing this right, I didn’t prepare for this right, I’m not doing it right, and I don’t want to do it anymore and I want to come back and do it for you again,’” he recalled, adding that the producers were receptive to the do-over.

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Looking back, James considered his size to be integral in creating the character.

”[Tony’s weight] is important. When I do get thin, which is not often, when it does happen, I don’t feel the same,” he said in the 2004 interview. “I don’t walk the same, he doesn’t walk the same without that lumber… it’s important.”

Lipton also asked the actor one of his famous final questions.

“If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates?” the host asked.

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“Take over for a while, I’ll be right back,” the actor said with a laugh.

-- Jesse Spero

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