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Interview: James Gandolfini

The actor and director on filming in New Orleans, working with Kristen Stewart and missing New York food


It’s not every actor who gets to co-star opposite Kristen Stewart, especially when she can’t stop herself from hitting on you and spends most of her time half naked and dancing around a pole. But James Gandolfini, who sees himself less Robert Pattinson or even Tony Soprano than a self-described “260-pound Woody Allen,” jumped at the opportunity to be pursued by Stewart in Welcome To The Rileys, even if his assignment is to resist her flirty advances and get it on with Melissa Leo instead. Gandolfini stopped by for this gab session about the movie, to share details about disciplining Kristen’s wayward jailbait stripper, one truly hairy experience while filming in New Orleans, his special talent for slicing garlic and no regrets when parting ways with Tony Soprano.

Q: So how drunk did you get in New Orleans?


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JAMES GANDOLFINI: Are you kidding? I’m still paying for it! It was all Melissa’s fault, by the way!

Welcome To The Rileys pictures

Q: Melissa said she kept thinking when she was going through the script: “So when is James is going to have sex with Kristen’s character already.” But you never do. Thoughts?

JG: I was hoping that too!

Q: And how did you get the chemistry going with that other female co-star Melissa, who’s apparently still wearing your movie wedding ring?

JG: I…like her! We just did it, you know, it just seemed to work. She’s also pretty good looking, which helps! So I enjoyed it, and I think that shows.

Q: That southern accent of yours in the movie was quite a surprise.

JG: Yeah, to me too. Sometimes you make choices and you look back and you…wonder. I really don’t know what else to say about that! There’s a really peculiar accent in southern Indiana. I had to have a dialect coach. But I took a shot at it.

Q: What’s bugging the guy you play?

JG: I think he’s questioning stuff. I know, actually. I’ve reached an age where you look back and you question, “How did I get here?” For me, it’s mostly good, but with my character, it’s not what he expected. It’s not what the man expected, so I think he has to go back in his mind and go somewhere and try to figure out what to do now. I think a lot of people do that. They just can’t really go anywhere or just disappear like that. I think he takes the opportunity to try to just figure things out, basically.

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