The late James Gandolfini’s screen debut was in a NYU student film called Eddy which was made for $10,000 in 1989.
Never-before-seen footage of James Gandolfini’s first movie role in Eddy has surfaced via London’s Daily Mail. The film was directed by David Matalon who later went on to produce What’s Eating Gilbert Grape among his other screen credits.
Gandolfini, then 27, was working as a bouncer and/or a doorman while trying to get acting gigs. In Eddy, he plays a tough-guy pimp from Brooklyn. The movie was filmed in 10 days in Hoboken, N.J. with a camera borrowed from the university.
Although Gandolfini showed up late for the audition, he really nailed it according to Matalon: “We were closing the room up for the night, it was late, almost 11 pm, and this giant guy stepped off the elevator, he looked like he was going to kill us! He apologized and said he had been at work, he was working as a doorman at the Blue Note, if I remember correctly, and he said ‘I would like to read for you guys.’ He gave this very brutal intense monologue and he just killed it. I said ‘you got the part’ — he was riveting to watch.’”
Added Matalon: “When the camera rolled, something electrifying was happening.” According to CNN, Matalon also noted that “[Gandolfini] was really intense and always prepared on set,”
Gandolfini’s first film major role was in True Romance four years later.
The actor, 51, who went on to superstardom as Tony Soprano in HBO’s The Sopranos was on vacation in Rome with his family when he suffered a fatal heart attack Wednesday night in his hotel room. His funeral is set for tomorrow at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City at 10 am Eastern. Gandolfini won three Emmy awards for his portrayal of the New Jersey mob boss. The Sopranos premiered in January 1999.
Watch a clip from James Gandolfini’s first movie:
In this 1988 short, Gandolfini plays the “orderly” but is only seen in silhouette and someone else’s voice is dubbed in, so Eddy appears to be his first real role.