READ about Piers Morgan's long career in journalism here.
Amidst the shocking news surrounding actor James Gandolfini's sudden death, on Wednesday evening "Piers Morgan Live" welcomed a collection of entertainment industry insiders and experts, all charged with remembering the "The Sopranos" star and identifying his proper position within the pantheon of televisions greatest actors and roles.
Most-widely recognized for his iconic portrayal of crime boss Tony Soprano in the hit show "The Sopranos," HBO issued a statement in response to Gandolfini's death:
"We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us."
Joined live by journalist Krista Smith, Piers Morgan attempted to gauge Gandolfini's industry influence:
[We] "could say that HBO's great success was built on 'The Sopranos,'" Morgan offered to his guest.
The West Coast Editor of "Vanity Fair," Smith concurred:
"Absolutely. No one before had had that kind of most-see TV on cable until "The Sopranos" came, and it was everyone – water cooler talk – everyone talked about it. Before there was 'Madmen,' there was 'The Sopranos,'" said Smith. "I think the most interesting thing when I've been reflecting back, as tragic as it is, it's kind of incredible the way, as popular as he was, he never fell pray to the trappings of celebrity. He was never interested in that. He didn't want to do the fame game."
Despite Gandolfini's tremendous success, which included a trio of Emmy Awards on his mantle, Smith described the 51-year-old as a man more interested in his craft, than any celebrity status in might have brought him:
"That's never why he was an actor. He was an actor to act and that was it. He didn't have the need for that kind of attention, and like you were talking about earlier, he would walk in a room and wouldn't demand that everyone look at him. He just kind of was," Smith recalled. "He showed up when he needed to."
Watch the rest of Morgan's interview with Smith, as the two remember the veteran of 40 films, and one extremely important television show.
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