“I tried to write a regular eulogy, but it came out like bad TV. So I’m writing you this letter, and now I’m reading that letter in front of you,” said/wrote David Chase, in his eulogy to James Gandolfini, who died last week, in case you live in a hole and hadn’t heard.
Gandolfini left behind a wife, 13 year old son, and 8 month baby daughter, but they aren’t the only family he had. Like so many other actors and writers who work on long-standing projects, had a show family. An HBO / Sopranos family of incredibly talented writers and actors. So when it was time for his eulogy, they found the best of the best to write it. Which is why it’s beautiful. You can read the full transcript here after I wax poetic for a little longer / point out the highlights for those of you who don’t have time to read an essay right now.
It makes sense that Chase – creator of what WGA voters (and many, many other respectable humans like my Dad and Matthew Weiner) believe to be the best show of all time – would humble himself in his speech to his colleague and close friend, by admitting even his own propensity to tend toward the cheesy, the unsubtle, the overly emotive… and all the obvious that makes for bad TV. Because when it comes to close friends and relatives, sometimes it’s not bad to feel feelings like you’re on a daytime soap opera? Especially when they die. And the speech was cheesy, but it also brought tears to my eyes and made me think things like “oh my god when I die what will happen I hope I’m as creatively accomplished as Gandolfini was so I have colleagues like David Chase to write my eulogy,” which is a totally selfish thing to think when reading a eulogy, and which I probably shouldn’t have just admitted to the internet.
“I also feel you’re my brother in that we have different tastes, but there are things we both love, which was family, work, people in all their imperfection, food, alcohol, talking, rage, and a desire to bring the whole structure crashing down. We amused each other.”
Bottom line, read the speech if you’re in the mood for a good cry. And if you’re missing James as much as David Chase is, check out Vulture’s best of Netflix streaming suggestions or empathize with all the other people mourning him to get your James-y G. fix over the weekend.
RIP Tony Soprano. You will be missed.