When The Sopranos debuted on HBO, I’d never seen any of The Godfather movies, Miller’s Crossing, or any other gangster flick. I had absolutely no interest in the genre.
But I did have HBO and my husband wanted to check out The Sopranos, so I watched it. I watched it again. And again. I still didn’t love the mafia genre, but I couldn’t resist The Sopranos. We’d watch it the night it aired and then again before the next episode. I didn’t want to like it — this was a culture I still had no interest in, nothing in common with — but James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, he just kept drawing me back in.
I don’t think anyone else could have done that. Gandolfini’s lovable psychopath, Tony Soprano, was pitch perfect, fascinating, charismatic, and vile, all at the same time. Because of Tony, I watched The Godfather and the other classics and developed a new appreciation for them.
A couple seasons in, I decided to write my vampire novel, Candle Bay, and something fun popped into my head: what if the pater familias of the clan, Orion Darling, had a thing for The Godfather? Maybe he had a long history of faddish fascinations and his current one was with one don or another. I already knew he had more than a passing similarity in looks to Robert DeNiro — what more could I ask for?
And so, in Candle Bay, Ori’s office mirrors Don Corleone’s, he watches Sopranos reruns and played the Godfather theme in the background. He even acts like Corleone, delighting in playing at gangster games.
I am currently well into Candle Bay’s sequel and when I began, I considered giving Ori Darling a new all-consuming interest, but decided against it. With James Gandolfini’s untimely passing, I’m doubly glad Ori remained smitten with Tony Soprano. Here’s to you, Mr. Gandolfini. RIP.