David Chase’s Heartbreaking Eulogy to James Gandolfini is Today’s Must-Read

The New York City funeral for James Gandolfini was not open to the public, but HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall has managed to obtain a transcript of the eulogy delivered by David Chase who created The Sopranos and Gandolfini’s most famous role as Tony Soprano. Chase wrote the eulogy as a letter written to Gandolfini, saying that he was scared and wished he could have sought Gandolfini’s advice, “I want to do a good job, because I love you, and because you always did a good job … I’m writing to you partly because I would like to have had your advice. Because I remember how you did speeches.” In it, he reminisces about their time together on set, ponders about the source of his affection for Gandolfini and even describes a scene from The Sopranos that never happened which would have been set to Joan Osborne’s “One of Us.”

Here he talks about the nature of his relationship with Gandolfini:

Another memory of you that comes to mind is from very early on — might have been the pilot, I don’t know. We were shooting in that really hot and humid summer New Jersey heat. And I looked over, and you were sitting in an aluminum beach chair, with your slacks rolled up to your knees, in black socks and black shoes, and a wet handkerchief on your head. And I remember looking over there and going, “Well, that’s really not a cool look.” But I was filled with love, and I knew then that I was in the right place. I said, “Wow, I haven’t seen that done since my father used to do it, and my Italian uncles use to do it, and my Italian grandfather used to do it.” And they were laborers in the same hot sun in New Jersey. They were stone masons, and your father worked with concrete. I don’t know what it is with Italians and cement. And I was so proud of our heritage — it made me so proud of our heritage to see you do that.

When I said before that you were my brother, this has a lot to do with that: Italian-American, Italian worker, builder, that Jersey thing — whatever that means — the same social class. I really feel that, though I’m older than you, and always felt, that we are brothers. And it was really based on that day. I was filled with so much love for everything we were doing and about to embark on.

You’d really be making a mistake to not read the full text here. It’s an incredibly personal, remarkably touching final goodbye to the beloved actor.

Gandolfini passed away last Wednesday after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in Italy. He was 51.