As Seen In: Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq (HBO documentary, 2007); Wartorn: 1861-2010 (HBO documentary, 2010)
James Gandolfini wasn't one to embrace the fame, spotlight, and the perks that come with being an Emmy-winning Hollywood icon. He was notoriously shy and uncomfortable around interviewers, and once sent in a taped message for an award acceptance speech rather than attend the Emmy ceremony. The New Jersey native was more interested in using his celebrity status to positive ends, chief of which was showing love to war veterans, particularly those who'd come back from fighting in Iraq.
Utilizing his clout at HBO, Gandolfini produced a pair of loving, moving documentaries, Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq and Wartorn: 1861-2010, the latter focusing on soldiers' bouts with post-traumatic stress disorder. For Alive Day Memories, Gandolfini went beyond the responsibilities of a producer and sat down with 10 injured Iraq War vets for in-depth, warm-hearted interviews.
Most, if not all, of the eulogies surrounding James Gandolfini will center on The Sopranos, which makes sense, but hopefully his dedication to our men and women in combat won't go unacknowledged. He was more than just an exceptional actor. —MB