James Gandolfini has sadly passed at the age of 51 and his final film will be Animal Rescue:

Earlier this spring Gandolfini shot a crime drama set in Brooklyn titled “Animal Rescue,” which like  “Enough Said”  comes from the studio division Fox Searchlight. Director Michael Roskum (“Bullhead”) is in postproduction on the movie, which is notable on several fronts. It’s a Euro-centric acting affair set in outerboro New York (Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace play the leads). And its story of redemption involving the rescue of a pit bull, a con, a romance and a Brooklyn bar marks the feature screenwriting debut of one Dennis Lehane, the novelist on whose work “Shutter Island” and “Mystic River” are based.

But now it’s known for something else much bigger than that: the last movie Gandolfini shot. Ganfolini plays the proprietor of a bar and an older spirit guide of sorts to Hardy’s bartender character, who becomes embroiled in a plot involving Chechen gangsters. The movie is also not dated, but will aim to come out in 2014.

I visited the set of “Animal Rescue” in March. I wasn’t lucky enough to be there when Gandolfini was working. But you could feel the buzz in the air, both from the other actors and the crew, who were describing a man more gentle and down to earth than the Tony Soprano-type they imagined. Apparently, when lunch was called, he didn’t retreat to his trailer like so many other actors but sat with the grippers and gaffes, talking about everything under the sun, including dogs, a big theme in the film. 

In one memorable scene, Gandolfini and Hardy reportedly go back and forth on the pronunciation of names of people who come from Chechnya. Gandolfini calls them “Chechnyans” — you can almost hear Tony Soprano saying the word — and Hardy corrects him that it’s “Chechens.”

It’s the kind of subtly skillful moment Gandolfini made a career out of. As of Wednesday, it’s a career cut way too short. But thanks to his chops and his work ethic, it’s a career that isn’t over yet.

(Source: Los Angeles Times)

Notes

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