'My best friend': James Gandolfini's son's sweetest tributes to him on the 5th anniversary of the 'Sopranos' star's death
James Gandolfini’s sudden death — 5 years ago today — left a void in Hollywood. We’ll always wonder what else the talented Sopranos star would have gone on to do.
Clearly, the bigger void was the one felt by his family, including his only son Michael Gandolfini, who was with him on a father-son trip in Rome when he suffered a heart attack. (They were celebrating Michael’s graduation from junior high.) Five years is a long time in the life of a child and, well, Michael is no longer one. He’s an 18-year-old college student at NYU‘s Tisch School of the Arts, an aspiring actor who had a role in Ocean’s 8 (more on that later), with a girlfriend, and he’s remained close to his dad’s Sopranos co-stars — just some of the life events he shares on Instagram.
But in between his current posts are many sweet tributes to his late dad, whom he has called his “best friend in the whole world.” As we remember “Jimmy” today, let’s look at some of them…
On Sunday, Michael, who is from James’s first marriage to Marcy Gandolfini, remembered his dad on Father’s Day as “the funniest and one of the most loving Dad’s that’s ever set foot on this Earth.” He talked about how he wished he could give him a bear hug — “in return for the million that you have [sic] me when I needed it.”
On James’s last birthday, when he would have been 56, Michael wrote about following in his dad’s footsteps into acting and being sad not to be able to share it with him. Though he revealed advice his father had given him when he was feeling down: “cowboy up” and “push through.”
On this day, he was just missing his “best friend.”
Michael has also called him his “hero.”
More sweet sentiments — around Christmas 2016.
Merry Christmas Dad. I miss you more and more everyday. More than I thought was possible. As I grow up, I wish you were here to see my accomplishments. A few amazing people I wish I could introduce you too. I wish we can talk about acting, stresses, friends, life. I'm sending a gift up to you in heaven. Love you dad. Thank you for guiding the special people into my life and looking out for me. I hope you have the best Christmas. I know you have my back, and support me. I love you.
Many of the posts are lighter, showing a funnier side of James, who became best known to audiences as a ruthless mafioso. When celebrities were sharing their first headshots a few months back, Michael posted his dad’s, which is amazing.
And we’re so glad to see this silly piggy pic.
The best pictures though are just of father and son together. Here they are clowning around.
Walking around NYC together, where Michael is carving out a life of his own.
James as Michael’s “jungle Jim.”
“Now he’s looking over me,” he wrote for this.
The caption on this was just “Dad” and a bunch of hearts.
There are lots of photos of Michael visiting his dad on the set too.
Michael shared the story of this one, snapped on the Sopranos set. “My dad called my mom and told her that I had to come to set ASAP. When I got there, there was a enormous black bear! I have a picture with me my dad and the bear too!” he wrote. “it was a great day.”
This one could be from 2006’s All the King’s Men, which filmed a lot in Louisiana.
As mentioned, Michael has the acting bug. He recently had a role playing a bus boy in the Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett heist flick Ocean’s 8. Not too shabby. He shared a few photos from the set, in one describing himself as “honored.” He’s also appeared in three episodes of HBO’s The Deuce, and was in Law & Order True Crime (starring Mrs. Soprano herself, Edie Falco!), but was cut from the final version.
Michael has attended charity events in honor of the causes his father supported — like the Wounded Warrior Project. He supported his father’s last film project, The Drop, walking the carpet with his mother and stepmother, Deborah Lin, who’s the mother of his half-sister, Liliana Gandolfini, 5. (Gandolfini left the bulk of his $70 million estate to his two children, but in a trust until they turn 21.)
And it was like a mini Sopranos reunion last September when Michael caught up with Steve Buscemi, Aida Turturro, and Lorraine Bracco at a party for Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9.
It’s nice to see that not only is he going places, but he’s still surrounded by love while he does it.
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