In the next column, I talk to Jeff Daniels about his new movie The Answer Man, but also about Broadway’s Tony winning God of Carnage, in which he costars with James Gandolfini in a rare stage role. I had heard that Gandolfini wanted to do everything imaginable to not dominate the play p.r.-wise and also to avoid having the finished product be the least bit Sopranos-like.
Daniels–one of those dependable Jacks of all trades confirmed this.
As he told me, “He didn’t want that. He still doesn’t want that. If there’s any kind of laugh or moment in the play that seems to be because of Tony Soprano, he leads the charge and tries to find a way to defuse it. He got the thing made. He got the money raised by saying yes. It took a lot of guts to do the show. He hadn’t done a play in 13 years. His acting muscles were Tony Soprano and HBO. You get thrown into Broadway, you have no idea it’s that difficult.
“But he’s come out the other end. They’re certainly glad to see him. I’m glad to be onstage with the guy who played Tony Soprano. It’s very cool. There’s a genuine love and affection. You can feel it every night. They love what he did with that role and they’re happy to see him. And they’re giving him every opportunity to succeed in the show. You can feel the auience pulling for him as one of their own. Now that we’re five months into this, people are going ‘He’s different. It’s a different character.’ Yes it is.”
Well, I’m pulling for him too. I’d be terrified not to.