You never forget your first. For millions of television junkies, James Gandolfini's turn as the devilishly compelling and tragically flawed antihero Tony Soprano was their first example of a morally grey protagonist. Whether you were a fan of the series or not, no one can deny how revolutionary The Sopranos were in crafting the current Golden age of television we occupy. Hell, almost a quarter of a century after its first episode, The Sopranos is almost as popular as ever, with a new wave of younger fans discovering the series during quarantine thanks to HBO Max. Even though there was a crew of talented people responsible for the show's quality, no one could've embodied the lovable sociopath that anchored the series like James Gandolfini.
It's a shame to think about how tragically short Gandolfini's life was—especially considering the modern Sopranos fandom. Had Gandolfini lived, there'd probably be a massive Sopranos reunion in the works akin to the Friends' special. Sadly, Gandolfini passed away at the age of 51. Today would've been Gandolfini's 61st birthday, so I thought the video linked above of him sharing words of wisdom as Tony Soprano would be a bittersweet tribute to the remarkably talented actor.