‘Sopranos’ Spoiler: Gandolfini's Career Ends Sunday

James Gandolfini, y'all. Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Everyone’s wondering about James Gandolfini's next act. But, honestly, don’t we know the answer? The guy only has slightly more range than Carrot Top. His southern accent in All the King’s Men was worse than Jude Law’s. (And Law played his Alabama lawyer like a lispy James Bond.) He’s tried comedy, and flopped: Of Surviving Christmas (Metacritic score: nineteen), the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Carrie Rickey said it was “so bad you’re nostalgic for Gigli.” He’s tried musicals (The Hollywood Reporter called Romance & Cigarettes “a karaoke nightmare”) and floundered, even in a part that was basically “Tony Soprano sings!”

Apparently, Gandolfini desperately wants to break out of his typecasting pigeonhole, but he should stay inside. Always at his worst when stretching, he should stick to what he knows best: lacing that rumbling, tectonic menace with twinkling humor. (Of his cruel turn in The Man Who Wasn’t There, David Edelstein wrote for Slate, “Gandolfini is full of juice, his murderousness a glinting extension of his bonhomie.”) Often, range is overrated: Bogart was another tough guy with an unmistakable voice — and craggy mug — and he played variations on a theme for almost his entire career. So, whither James Gandolfini? More like wither. Unless the old dog sticks to old tricks. —Logan Hill