Much of the world will forever remember James Gandolfini as his seminal TV character, mobster Tony Soprano. But Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who starred opposite the actor in the 2013 romantic comedy Enough Said, one of his final roles before the actor’s sudden death, got familiar with Gandolfini’s softer side.
The film, Louis-Dreyfus’s first with her You Hurt My Feelings writer-director Nicole Holofcener, stars Louis-Dreyfus as a massage therapist and new empty nester whose relationship with Gandolfini hits a speed bump when he’s revealed to be the ex-husband of her new client. “He was a teddy bear,” the Emmy winner said while revisiting clips from her career with Vanity Fair. “He was a tender guy, and so I’m very happy that he made this film. Not only because I got to work with him,” she continued, “but the public got to see him not as a mafia boss, but as somebody closer to himself—who was very vulnerable and very kind-hearted.”
Louis-Dreyfus, who compared Gandolfini’s acting work to that of Oscar winner Marlon Brando, maintained that his offscreen benevolence was the key to his award-winning work on The Sopranos. “I would suggest that one of the reasons, among many, that he was so good at Tony Soprano was that that vulnerability was in place,” she explained. “That made his character much more complicated and interesting to watch.”
Louis-Dreyfus knows a thing or two about pioneering TV characters. Speaking to VF about her storied career, she reflected on the real man who inspired Seinfeld’s iconic Soup Nazi, and how Veep brought two ideologically opposed Supreme Court justices together. Stay tuned to hear how Louis-Dreyfus entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, a role she’ll reprise in Marvel’s upcoming Thunderbolts alongside Florence Pugh, Sebastian Stan, and David Harbour. Watch the full video above.
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