Television and movie fans are mourning the untimely passing of James Gandolfini, who played the inimitable role of Tony Soprano on HBO's "The Sopranos." Gandolfini died Wednesday in Italy at age 51.
Through his work on the show, and his other film and stage work, Gandolfini became an icon. It's eerie, and in a way, sort of comforting to look back on his 2009 appearance on "Inside the Actor's Studio."
Gandolfini, so very Italian-American, and so very Jersey, answers James Lipton's questions with warmth and brash humor. At the closing of his interview, a regular question hits too close to the present.
"Finally Jim, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates?" Lipton asks.
After thinking for a moment, Gandolfini responds, "Take over for a while, I'll be right back."
The whole interview is full of these kinds of moments and is worth the watch for any fan of Gandolfini's work. (The quote above appears at the 39:40 mark).
The "heaven" question is a mainstay on the program, and many other celebrities have given memorable answers. A few other bon mots:
"If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates?"
Angelina Jolie: "Um...you are allowed in?!"
Tina Fey: "You're roommates with Oprah!"
Nicholas Cage: "Bless you for trying."
Colin Firth: "I personally thought you were very good in 'Mamma Mia.'"
Bradley Cooper: "Hey, you hungry?"
Anthony Hopkins: "What were you doing down there?!"
Amy Poehler: "For real? Come on in. [Lipton: "For not so real?"] See? your mother was right."
Robert Downey Jr: "Boy, did I have a ball with you."
Dave Chapelle: "Congratulations, bill, you're a law."
Robert De Niro: "Well if heaven exists, he's got a lot of explaining to do."