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John Travolta and James Gandolfini had known each other well before they starred together in films, via growing up nearby communities. In fact Travolta’s dad sold tires to Gandolfini’s father. At the time, Travolta was already well into the world of acting and his father had pictures up on the walls related to his son’s work. Travolta credits this as having inspired Gandolfini to become an actor.
“I was his inspiration to get into the business. He would see pictures of me on the wall from movies and he decided that he wanted to be an actor.”
Travolta headed to the set of ABC’s early morning program Good Morning America on Thursday. He was there to promote his new movie Killing Season, but invariably the man wanted to speak more about his friend and frequent co-star James Gandolfini, who was pronounced dead in Italy on Wednesday. An autopsy will be undergone, but early reports indicate the 51-year-old actor likely died of a heart attack.
Travolta shared plenty of anecdotal stories and information about his friend and co-star, who popped up together in movies as diverse as Get Shorty, Lonely Hearts, and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. However, the most compelling thing he noted had to do with Gandolfini’s personality, which the actor says was warm and people-oriented.
“He was a people person first and then everything else. He was this beautiful man and I love him very much.”
Travolta wasn’t the only actor who has worked with Gandolfini to speak out at length and with adequacy about the popular Sopranos star. Gandolfini’s Sopranos co-star Edie Falco also spoke out at length on Thursday in a statement that also spoke of the actor’s people skills.
"I am shocked and devastated by Jim's passing. He was a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity, with a kindness and generosity beyond words. I consider myself very lucky to have spent 10 years as his close colleague.
Gandolfini’s death was a surprise and a shock to many. The man leaves numerous projects in his wake, including the HBO project Bone Wars with Incredible Burt Wonderstone co-star Steve Carell. Gandolfini leaves behind a wife, Deborah Lin, and two children, Michael and Liliana.