In commemoration of James Gandolfini’s death last month, I thought it might be fitting to compile a list focusing on some of cinemas great bad-ass supporting characters.
I’m talking about that particular type of role that allows an actor enough freedom to show a different side of his/herself, usual leading to the eccentric, borderline psychopathic performances that audiences love. The kind of character that commands such presence, in their few brief scenes they are able to shift all of our attention away from the lead players and take complete control of the film.
Other than Gandolfini’s most well known role as Tony Soprano in HBO’s ‘The Soprano’s’, he often had smaller supporting parts in films such as Get Shorty, True Romance and The Man Who Wasn’t There. He had the unique ability to bring a particular eerie tension to an otherwise standard scene, leaving the audience captivated and his performance engrained in our minds well after we’ve left the cinema.
It was an absolute blast revisiting the movies featured on this list. I’ve compiled them here in no particular order.
Let’s get the ball rolling with the man himself…
10. James Gandolfini – ‘Mickey Fallon’ In Killing Them Softly (2012)
One of last year’s great surprises, Killing Them Softly was a neo-noir crime tale filled to the brim with interesting and eccentric characters. From Brad Pitt’s leather clad, smooth talking Jackie to Ben Mendelsohn’s (almost too convincing) junkie Russell, the film was far from short of great moments. But it was Gandolfini’s awesome portrayal of New York hitman, Mickey Fallon that really lifted KTS to another level.
The instant Gandolfini appears on screen, the movie takes a turn towards the bizarre. From his aggressive back and forth with a cocktail waiter whilst sucking down olives to his darkly humorous banter about cutting up a prostitute, we know Mickey is one intimidating guy. But it’s Gandolfini’s ability to meld dangerous and desperate so seamlessly that takes the character of Mickey to another level.
In his brief interactions with Pitt’s Jackie, we learn that his young wife has walked out on him and he faces going back to prison. There’s something about watching Mickey’s struggle to appear so relaxed about his obviously hopeless predicament that is very engrossing. It’s kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I’ve never seen scary and pathetic blended so well.
Although he only appears in a couple of scenes, a powerhouse performance delivered by Gandolfini makes Mickey’s role the most memorable in the film.
This article was first posted on July 5, 2013