James Gandolfini's nearest and dearest gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan on Thursday morning in remembrance of the "Sopranos" star.
The private funeral was a star-studded tribute with many "Sopranos" cast members including Edie Falco, Aida Turturro, Lorraine Bracco, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Tony Sirico, Steve Buscemi, Michael Imperioli, Joe Pantoliano, Vincent Pastore, Dominic Chianese, Steve Schirripa, and John Ventimiglia. Other famous mourners included Alec Baldwin and his pregnant wife, Hilaria, John Turturro, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
The 90-minute service was led by Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski. His widow, Deborah Lin Gandolfini, was expected to provide a remembrance, as was "Sopranos" creator, David Chase, and family friends Thomas Richardson and Susan Aston.
During Chase's eulogy, he recalled shooting a "Sopranos" scene in which Gandolfini, who was known for his intensity on the set, slammed a refrigerator door so hard it broke, according to The Wrap. "Did it say anywhere in the script, 'Tony destroys a refrigerator?'" Chase remembered saying to the powerful actor. "You destroyed the refrigerator."
Chase also shared a conversation they had during which Gandolfini confided, "You know what I want to be? A man. That's all. I want to be a man. " The director noted that it surprised him because the hulking star was so manly, though he shared that he also saw "a sad boy, amazed and confused" inside the star – and thought that's what made him such a great actor.
Anton, who was Gandolfini's longtime dialogue coach, talked about working with him in his home office. She described him as a "big teddy bear of a friend," according to the Associated Press. "He worked hard," she said. "He was disciplined. He studied his roles and did his homework."
[Related: James Gandolfini's 20 Best Roles]
St. John the Divine is one of the world's largest cathedrals; it's the length of two football fields and can hold 5,000 people. Fans of the TV, movie, and Broadway star also lined the sidewalks outside.
The New York Post reports that HBO, the cable network which made Gandolfini a star by casting him as mobster Tony Soprano in the hit series, organized the entire event and is footing the bill. They also filmed it, according to the paper – though it won't be shown publicly. It will be a gift to the family of the award-winning actor, who died of a heart attack in Rome on June 19 at the age of 51.
On Wednesday, Gandolfini's final goodbye was already underway when his intimates gathered at a private wake in his native New Jersey.
The small, intimate, invite-only event took place at the Robert Spearing Funeral Home in Park Ridge, which is about a 10 minute ride from Westwood, where he grew up. The late star's wife was seen arriving, and the couple's 8-month-old daughter, Liliana, was thought to be under a covered baby carrier that was toted inside.
Gandolfini's first wife, Marcy Wudarski – with whom he has a 13-year-old son, Michael, who had been traveling with the "Zero Dark Thirty" star in Rome at the time of his death – was also among the 100 mourners. So were his two sisters, Leta Gandolfini and Johanna Antonacci. None of his "Sopranos" castmates attended, according to the local Star-Ledger, though they are expected to attend the larger funeral.
[Related: What We Can Learn From James Gandolfini]
The newspaper also noted that "dozens of fans and friends" lined the street outside the funeral home.
Broadway also paid tribute to the star on Wednesday night. Theaters on the Great White Way dimmed their marquee lights in tribute to Gandolfini, who received a Tony Award nomination in 2009 for his role in the award-winning "God of Carnage."
- Death & Funeral
- Family & Relationships
- James Gandolfini
- Tony Sirico
- Michael Imperioli