On the other hand, he clearly knew the difference between what was serious as an actor — and what was deadly serious.
Marshaling his unbidden clout as a star, Gandolfini produced (though only sparingly appeared in) a pair of documentaries for HBO focused on a cause he held dear: veterans affairs.
"Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq" (2007) profiled soldiers and Marines who had cheated death in war but continued to wage personal battles back at home. Four years later, "Wartorn: 1861-2010" charted victims of post-traumatic stress disorder from the U.S. invasion of Iraq all the way back to the Civil War.
"Do I think a documentary is going to change the world?" Gandolfini said about the latter film. "No, but I think there will be individuals who will learn things from it, so that's enough."
There were no grand pronouncements that day. No lofty goals voiced. No showboating by an actor who will never be forgotten as Tony Soprano, and then some, for the work he leaves behind.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier