In 2005, as the landmark HBO series "The Sopranos" began shooting its final season, James Gandolfini talked to 60 Minutes' Bob Simon about playing the role of Tony Soprano. In an extended excerpt of that conversation (in the above video player), Gandolfini told Simon that it was the writing that made the show so successful.
"I don't think I've ever said this to most of the writers 'cause I basically like to have a slightly adversarial -- Is that the word? -- relationship with them, but I think they're unbelievable," said Gandolfini. "I sit there and read it and just go, 'Jesus Christ, it's so goddamn smart.'"
When asked about the fate of his character in the final season of series, Gandolfini said he didn't know whether the show's writers planned to kill his character -- but that he was OK with whatever fate they had in store for him.
"If it's time to go, it's time to go. Have a party and move on," said Gandolfini of his role. "I had a good run, man. I'm fine. I had a good run."
Gandolfini died yesterday at the age of 51 while vacationing in Italy with his family. He won three Emmy Awards for his role on "The Sopranos." After the show ended, Gandolfini appeared on Broadway and in the film "Zero Dark Thirty." He also voiced the role of Carol in the film adaption of the children's book Where the Wild Things Are.
When asked whether he was concerned about being stuck in the role of Tony Soprano in the minds of audiences for the rest of his life, Gandolfini said, "There are worse things to be associated with."