From inside Thursday morning's private but very publicly attended funeral for James Gandolfini, HitFix's Alan Sepinwall has obtained the full text of Sopranos creator David Chase's moving tribute. The showrunner, who often sparred with his star almost as much as they inspired each other, began his eulogy, which was written as a direct address to Gandolfini, explaining how "scared" he was up at the dais at Manhattan's Cathedral of St. John the Divine. "I want to do a good job, because I love you, and because you always did a good job," Chase said. What followed was a deeply personal tribute, which reads as a behind-the-scenes look into a close relationship between the two men most primarily responsible for one of the most seminal television shows of all time. Chase reminisced about episodes on set, and described a scene from The Sopranos that never was—Tony on a bus, with Joan Osborne's "One of Us" on the soundtrack.
Here's an excerpt, in which Chase describes a "crisis of faith" for Gandolfini:
The image of my uncles and father reminded me of something that happened between us one time. Because these guys were such men — your father and these men from Italy. And you were going through a crisis of faith about yourself and acting, a lot of things, were very upset. I went to meet you on the banks of the Hudson River, and you told me, you said, "You know what I want to be? I want to be a man. That's all. I want to be a man." Now, this is so odd, because you are such a man. You're a man in many ways many males, including myself, wish they could be a man.
The paradox about you as a man is that I always felt personally, that with you, I was seeing a young boy. A boy about Michael's age right now. 'Cause you were very boyish. And about the age when humankind, and life on the planet are really opening up and putting on a show, really revealing themselves in all their beautiful and horrible glory. And I saw you as a boy — as a sad boy, amazed and confused and loving and amazed by all that. And that was all in your eyes. And that was why, I think, you were a great actor: because of that boy who was inside. He was a child reacting. Of course you were intelligent, but it was a child reacting, and your reactions were often childish. And by that, I mean they were pre-school, they were pre-manners, they were pre-intellect. They were just simple emotions, straight and pure. And I think your talent is that you can take in the immensity of humankind and the universe, and shine it out to the rest of us like a huge bright light. And I believe that only a pure soul, like a child, can do that really well. And that was you.
Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing over at HitFlix.