Remembering James Gandolfini in ‘God of Carnage,’ other stage plays

James Gandolfini, left, and Jeff Daniels in "God of Carnage," by Yasmina Reza, at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in 2011.
(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

James Gandolfini, who died unexpectedly on Wednesday after reportedly suffering a heart attack while in Italy, will forever be remembered for playing the neurotic New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano on HBO’s hit series “The Sopranos.”

Theater audiences in Los Angeles and New York got a chance to see Gandolfini at his finest in the stage comedy “God of Carnage,” by French playwright Yasmina Reza. The actor played one of four Brooklyn parents who come to blows over a playground brawl involving their children.

In an interview with the Times in 2011, Gandolfini said that he first saw the play in London: “I was doing a movie in London, and I went with friends to see the play there. I didn’t know anything about it. Nothing. But we went and we laughed. When we came out of the theater after an hour and a half — which was a big selling point — all of us had grins on our faces, and the energy of the audience was good.”

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“God of Carnage” opened on Broadway in 2009 and came to the Ahmanson Theatre with the same cast two years later. Gandolfini was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in the play, alongside his co-stars Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden.


Daniels wrote on Twitter Wednesday: “RIP James Gandolfini. A great friend.”

Gandolfini acted in a 1997 production of the play “Remembrance,” by Irish playwright Graham Reid, at what is now the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in West L.A. He also appeared in the 1992 Broadway revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” opposite Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin.


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