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A lot of times when celebrities die, the public decides to remember that actor or actress in the best light, regardless of past shortcomings. According to his Sopranos co-star Drea de Matteo, James Gandolfini was a fierce champion for those he cared about, and he really cared about everyone he worked with on HBO’s hit show. He cared about them so much, he took money from his own pocket to help his co-workers when they were screwed out of some money by the subscription cable network. Here’s what happened.
Back in the day, when Gandolfini signed on to star in The Sopranos, he worked out a contract that included getting a cut of the show’s DVD sales. Unfortunately, not everyone who signed contracts to appear in The Sopranos thought about profits from DVDs. Actress Drea de Matteo, who played Adriana on the series, says that Gandolfini made a big gesture when he found out the actors weren't getting a payout.
“When all of us made our deals with HBO, none of the actors were included in the DVD sales for the show. And when he found out about that, he was pretty pissed off, and he called each actor into his trailer one by one, and cut everybody a VERY big check for thousands of dollars, in the double numbers. And paid each actor a cut of the proceeds he'd gotten from the DVD sales at that time. That was completely unnecessary, but Jesus Christ, it was something I'll never forget, there aren't many people who would do that.”
Matteo had a big role on the series, but when you think about all of the people who had roles as big as Matteo’s in The Sopranos, the list is pretty lengthy. So, to imagine him cutting large checks to all of those individuals shows a level of care and compassion beyond what most people would be willing to give. But Matteo also mentions that big, grand gestures were just a part of Gandolfini’s nature.
“He bought us dinner every friday night, for the whole crew and cast. That's a lot of dinner. He was a giant pussycat, and he took care of everyone on that show.”
Who knew the man known for playing the violent and quick to anger Tony Soprano was actually a big softie at heart? Oh wait, everyone. While he wasn’t without his share of regrettable incidents, he’s also the guy who helped dig cars out of snow banks in New York City when the going got rough. He even helped John Travolta to get over the death of his son. The story regarding the DVD money isn’t shocking, but it does give us a idea of what it must have been like to be around the man on set.
You can read more about Drea de Matteo, as well as her roles on The Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy, in her full Reddit AMA.