Julia Louis-Dreyfus opened up about working with “Sopranos” star James Gandolfini on one of his final films before his death in June 2013 at the age of 51.
The 62-year-old actress starred opposite the late actor in the 2013 romantic-comedy “Enough Said” in which they played a pair of divorcees who fall in love.
Louis-Dreyfus, who had never met Gandofini prior to filming the movie, recalled how he was very different from the ruthless mob boss he portrayed for six seasons in the hit HBO series.
“He was a teddy bear,” the “Seinfeld” alum told Vanity Fair in an interview published Wednesday.
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS REFLECTS ON ‘GRIEF’ WHEN ‘SEINFELD’ ENDED
“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,” Louis-Dreyfus added. “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.”
From 1999 to 2007, Gandolfini played Tony Soprano, the conflicted head of the New Jersey-based DiMeo crime family. Soprano became Gandolfini’s best-known role, and the actor won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe among other accolades for his performance.
During her interview with Vanity Fair, Louis-Dreyfus praised her late co-star’s acting ability, and she compared him to “The Godfather” star Marlon Brando.
“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,” the “Veep” star noted. “That made his character much more complicated and interesting to watch.”
Gandolfini died of a heart attack during a family vacation in Rome.
“Enough Said,” which was directed by Nicole Holofcenter and also starred Catherine Keener, Toni Collette and Ben Falcone, was released three months after Gandolfini’s death.
“Enough Said” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2013 before being released in theaters later that month. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times ahead of the premiere, Louis-Dreyfus reflected on how she quickly she bonded with Gandolfini.
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“I liked him right away,” she said. “What was so fascinating to me immediately was that he’s a very mild, dear, thoughtful fellow, very much like the character he plays in the film. He isn’t like Tony Soprano at all, even though he sure looks like Tony Soprano.”
Louis-Dreyfus told the outlet she was having a difficult time coming to terms with Gandolfini’s sudden death.
“It was just brutal, just brutal,” she said. “And very, very sad.”
The 11-time Emmy Award winner remembered Gandolfini was initially apprehensive about taking on the role of kind-hearted librarian Albert.
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“Jim was so nervous,” Louis-Dreyfus said, “because it was outside his comfort zone in a way. But he’s extraordinary in it. I’m so happy people are going to see this aspect of him. It’s a gorgeous performance.”
Both Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus were widely praised by critics for their performances in “Enough Said,” with the actress earning her first Golden Globe nomination for a film role. The movie was dedicated to Gandolfini’s memory.