The Sopranos just turned 20 years old!
On Wednesday, the cast of the landmark HBO show assembled for a panel discussion to mark the anniversary at SVA Theater in New York, where memories abounded of James Gandolfini, the show’s larger-than-life leading man, who died tragically in 2013.
“I feel like he never really knew how good he was,” Edie Falco, who played Gandolfini’s wife on the mob drama explained to ET. “He was so humble in the face of how great he was. He never really felt like he knew what he was doing… Such a powerful actor and such a powerful scene partner. But the humility added to just how much fun he was to be with.”
Lorraine Bracco, who played Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist on the show, shared this fun comment about Gandolfini: “Oh yeah, he was a pain in my butt. There’s no, ifs, ands or butts about it. He was really naughty! And I loved every second of it.”
Meanwhile, Kathrine Narducci, who played Charmaine Bucco, shared a touching story illustrating just how generous Gandolfini was with his collaborators.
“I do have a beautiful memory at our last award show when we took a bow on stage, I think it was the Screen Actors Guild Awards, we were all taken into a room by a security guard,” she recalled. “And one by one, we were like, ‘Where are we going?’ We were at the awards and we went into this room and the security guard came with two other security people and they put a big duffel bag on the table. And [James] said the reason we’re taking you in this room and I have these security guards… we have a million dollars, over a million dollars worth of jewelry in this bag. And James gave us all the series regs gold watches that were inscribed ‘Rest in Peace.'”
According to his fellow cast members, the late actor wasn’t only giving, he was also thoughtful and caring. Robert Iler, who played Gandolfini’s son on the series, shared that the show’s star had a habit of quietly checking on him to make sure he was doing OK.
“He would call my manager to make sure I wasn’t spending too much on rent or hanging out with the wrong people,” he told ET. “And him telling my manager, ‘Don’t tell Robert I called.’ He didn’t want the credit. He didn’t want people to think he was a good guy… I don’t remember Jim going around looking for validation from people. You know, he was who he was and for me, Jim was perfect.”
Gandolfini died of a heart attack on June 19, 2013, while on vacation in Rome, Italy. He was just 51 years old.
Check out the actors’ thoughts on Gandolfini and more in the video above.