New book reveals HBO was ‘concerned’ about Sopranos star James Gandolfini ‘staying alive’

·2-min read
New book reveals HBO was ‘concerned’ about Sopranos star James Gandolfini ‘staying alive’

A recently released book claims HBO was “concerned” about The Sopranos star James Gandolfini “staying alive” during the show’s filming.

In journalist James Andrew Miller’s Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, former Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes said Gandolfini’s heath was a cause of worry for network executives.

“We were concerned about Gandolfini staying alive. Occasionally he would go on a bender or a coke binge. We had to stop production,” the former HBO head reportedly said.

The actor, who played Italian-American mob boss Tony Sopranos on the six-season drama, died in 2013 after suffering a heart attack. He was 51 at the time.

Bewkes also told Miller that he did not put pressure on former HBO chairman Chris Albrecht about Gandolfini “skipping work” because “he thought Jimmy was embarrassed”. However, these production delays were “hard on the other actor’s schedules”, according to Bewkes.

Meanwhile, Albrecht, who was also interviewed for Miller’s oral history book, told the investigative reporter that HBO hosted an intervention for Gandolfini at his Manhattan home.

Albrecht said: “The intervention wasn’t my idea. I think [it was] his family’s idea because his sister was there. It was definitely a crisis situation.”

Gandolfini responded to the intervention, Albrecht recalled, by screaming at the people waiting for him, daring Albrecht to fire him, and storming out. “Oh f*** this. F*** all of you,” the actor reportedly said.

“I don’t remember us being worried he was going to die, but it became a real problem with shooting the show,” Albrecht continued, adding: “It became about a lack of respect for other actors as well.”

On an episode of the Talking Sopranos podcast this August, Gandolfini’s co-star Robert Patrick revealed that the late actor was hungover when he performed an iconic scene from the show, which ended in 2007. But he added that Gandolfini was flawless in the scene, despite the hangover.

Miller’s book is currently available for purchase in the UK.

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