James Gandolfini created an exceptional legacy in Hollywood with his legendary role on The Sopranos, but he made a much bigger impact on the lives of his family. Behind the scenes, the late star was a loving dad of two kids: Michael Gandolfini and Liliana Gandolfini.
As the son of one of showbiz’s most iconic actors, Michael is very serious about upholding his father’s incredible legacy. The up-and-coming star is set to portray the young version of Tony Soprano in the prequel The Many Saints of Newark, which hits theaters and will be available to stream on HBO Max on October 1.
Speaking to Esquire in August 2019, Michael revealed he didn’t watch James’ award-winning series until he landed the role in the upcoming flick. “I was just a kid when he was making [The Sopranos],” he dished at the time the project was announced. “I would go to the set and ask him what it was about, and he’d say, ‘Oh, it’s about this guy who’s in the mob and kind of goes to therapy.'”
Because Michael didn’t know the ins and outs of his father’s character, stepping into his dad’s shoes was an “intense process.”
“The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time,” he explained. “Because, as an actor, I had to watch this guy who created the role, to look for mannerisms, voice, all those things I would have to echo.”
In addition, Michael recalled getting emotional watching James on the screen. “Then I’d also be seeing my father … I think what made it so hard was I had to do it alone,” he shared. “I was just sitting alone in my dark apartment, watching my dad all the time.”
James was the dad of his eldest child with his ex-wife, Marcy Wudarski. The Emmy-winning actor wed Marcy in 1999 and welcomed their son that same year. However, the former couple split after three years of marriage in 2002.
Following their split, James moved on with his second wife, Deborah Lin, in 2008. The lovebirds expanded the Enough Said alum’s family in 2012 when they welcomed his second child and their daughter, Liliana. Tragically, James died the following year at age 51 in June 2013 from a heart attack.
To learn more about James’ children, keep scrolling.
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