Happy birthday, James Gandolfini

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.