Wednesday, June 26, 2013

James Gandolfini: Best Dramatic Role Ever?



It is difficult to think of a more iconic figure on television than Tony Soprano. Never has an actor so dominated seven years worth a of top-quality TV.

Now in the movies, you might say James Bond. But he was played by many actors. I say James Bond and you might think of Sean Connery but I might picture Daniel Craig.

But say Tony Soprano and everyone knows who you mean. What a loss!



Who comes close to creating this memorable a character?

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yul Brynner, The King and I


Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That role trapped him more than Gandolfini, I think.

Chris said...

Carol O'Conner as Archie Bunker? I know it's not drama, but it's still as memorable as memorable gets.

sandra seamans said...

James Garner as both Maverick and Rockford.

Anonymous said...

It's true. Even though O'Connor had success with In the Heat of the Night he was always Archie Bunker to most people.


Jeff M.

Charles Gramlich said...

Even I know who Tony Soprano is, although until he died I didn't know the name of the actor that played him. And I've never even seen an episode of the Sopranos. Leonard Nimoy as Spock would be my choice.

Chris said...

I always think of Nimoy as the voice of In Search Of more than as of Spock. I know that's probably a rarity, though. . . .

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'd guess James Arness would be a natural addition here too. And perhaps Patrick Stewart. It was a struggle to see him play in a Shakespeare play but he was excellent. Also Hugh Laurie.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Gandolfini was terrific in the role--great show, great actor. I'd say Michael Chiklis from The Shield, Jon Hamm from Mad Men, and Timothy Olyphant from Justified are in the same discussion.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have never seen THE SHIELD but the others are definitely close. Jon Hamm just had his best season ever IMHO.

Gerard said...

My first thought was Archie Bunker and that aired when I was too young to watch it anyway. I can think of more comedic roles than dramatic roles.

Dennis Franz as Sipowicz in NYPD BLUE. Franz did so many cop shows.

Sam Waterston in LAW AND ORDER.

Anonymous said...

Kelsey Grammar as Frasier--a role he played in two shows, Cheers and Frasier.

I never watched The Sopranos, except for a few minutes of the edited version that ran on A&E. I know it won't make me popular, but with my eyes closed Gandolfini sounded like Buddy Hackett and I just couldn't get a tough guy sounding like that.

Deb

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, the voice initially put me off but after a while, it seemed perfect for the role.
Frasier is a great one. Although in BOSS he was equally convincing as a corrupt mayor with secrets.
Alan Alda in MASH.

Anonymous said...

If you knew the actors before the shows mentioned - my wife always thinks of Chiklis as "The Commish" for instance - it may color your view, though even though Olyphant starred in DEADWOOD and has played villains several times I do think of him as Raylan Givens now.


Jeff M.

Dave Zeltserman said...

The Shield is the most noir show ever made--and more so than any movie I can think of. A brilliant show that kept its noir vision intact throughout. Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and the rest of his squad were doomed from the first episode when they executed a fellow cop investigating them, but it took the whole series to play out. This show is SO MUCH BETTER than The Wire, which isn't bad, but pales so badly in comparison.

Richard R. said...

I'm not saying it's in the same league dramatically, but the same is true if you say "Jim Rockford".

Kent Morgan said...

More people would think of Archie Bunker ahead of Tony Soprano because the show was on network TV. If you want to expand the question, what about young actors and I'll go first with the Beaver. The introduction is always in my head somewhere - and Gerry Mathers as the Beaver.

Gerard said...

The mention of MASH makes me think of Harry Morgan, which makes me think of DRAGNET, which, of course, reminds me of Jack Webb.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wonder if we could come up with as many iconic femaies. Lucy, Mary, but from dramas-less likely.
The Ian McShane character from DEADWOOD. Al Swearigen (sp) was probably the most iconic from that one.

sandra seamans said...

For women I always associate Angie Dickenson with Police Woman but I couldn't tell you what her character name was :)

Anne Francis was Honey West.

Anonymous said...

Pepper Anderson! She always had to go undercover at a strip club or some such.

Deb

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget that she was always clean, Deb, from all the baths she took.

Jeff M.

PS - Some others:

Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett
Ed Asner as Lou Grant
Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing

Erik Donald France said...

Pretty much nobody else, but I like the suggestions given here. Not many women listed, though.



pattinase (abbott) said...

For a long time, there were none. I would add Edie Falco's NURSE JACKIE. I think it is a pretty brave performance.

Toe Hallock said...

I do not understand why so many people who watch TV automatically assume that there is no humor in drama. Where is the irony in that? Life is a continuous drama. We laugh, we weep, we learn from our mistakes. "All In The Family," to my way of thinking,is real drama. Therefore, Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton are my nominees for best dramatic performance. Yours truly, Toe.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes ALL IN THE FAMILY did a great job of combining humor and drama. Some of the best episodes dealt with Edith Bunker's attempted rape and her menopause.

Erik Donald France said...

Patti, Edie Falco is great ~ and she has Oz, The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie quite a combo -- spans a decade and a half now, or thereabouts.

I always loved Dianna Rigg also, possibly for different reasons.

Erik Donald France said...

Jean Stapleton, yeah !

Rick said...

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in BREAKING BAD...

Todd Mason said...

Barbara Stanwyck in THE BIG VALLEY...Sela Ward and Marin Hinckle and Susanna Thompson in ONCE AND AGAIN (ubergeeks will always think of Thompson as the STAR TREK Borg Queen, soapsters of Ward as Teddi from SISTERS)...Honor Blackman as Mrs. Gale along with Rigg as Mrs. Peel...Loren Graham, Melissa McCarthy, Kelly Bishop and Liza Weil on GILMORE GIRLS...Carla Gugino as Karen Sisco (hello, Mr. Leonard)...Audrey Meadows as Alice Kramden...Carol Burnett as Eunice...Regina Taylor as Lily Harper on I'LL FLY AWAY...CCH Pounder as Claudette Wyms on THE SHIELD...

Very comparable to Gandolfini as Soprano: another fellow Son of Italy, Daniel Travanti, as another middle-manager with agita, Francis Furillo.

Todd Mason said...

Marin Hinkle, actually.

France Nuyen as Sam on I SPY and Paulette Kiem on ST. ELSEWHERE. Though ST. ELSEWHERE was such a well-balanced ensemble, after the first year, no one was allowed to dominate, though I suspect William Daniels had the most fun.

Todd Mason said...

And Bonnie Bartlett got to do memorable work on two of the 10 best US series, as Barbara Brooks on ONCE AND AGAIN and as Ellen Craig on ST. ELSEWHERE...

Erik Donald France said...

TM -- excellent additions ~!