plays are cute—that is, if you’re a proud parent of one of the actors. And even
then, these amateur productions can leave a lot to be desired. Yet every once
in a while, a student play emerges with something—or rather, someone—special.
And that special someone we’d like to pay homage to right now is James
actor, who hit it big as mob boss on The Sopranos and died last week in Italy,
wasn’t always a big star, obviously. He started out in a student play called Tarantulas
Dancing at St. John’s, directed by Larry Myers.
was about how evil the world is and how we all end up on slabs in
mortuaries," Myers told The
New York Post. "The play was dark and his monologue touched on child
molestation and death."
From there, Gandolfini used his monologue from Myer’s play in an
audition for his first film: A $10,000 NYU student flick called Eddy. According
to the play’s director, David Matalon, the young Gandolfini nearly missed his
"We were closing the room up for the night, it was late,
almost 11 p.m., and this giant guy stepped off the elevator, he looked like he
was going to kill us!" Matalon recalled. "He gave this very brutal
intense monologue and he just killed it. I said, 'You got the part'—he was
riveting to watch."
went on to produce What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, although he admits he wished
he could have had another opportunity to work with Gandolfini. "It was
really nice to watch him make it and it's just tragic that he's gone, because
he was a really special actor," Matalon said.