As Seen In: The Sopranos, "Pilot" (Season 1, Episode 1)
Despite the tensions in his life, Gandolfini's Tony Soprano was a man of many smiles: the soft, Daddy's-little-girl one he saves for Meadow; the glinty one that appears when he's talking especially vicious business; the I-will-suffer-fools-but-only-with-a-smirk one for idiots and Meadow's boyfriends.
But those are smiles of affection, menace, and frustration, not the truly happy one that suffuses his face when sees his precious ducks in the first episode of the series. It's maybe the happiest Tony Soprano ever was, and it lasts not even 10 seconds. One moment he's the diligent dad, studiously tending to the grill. Then the worries of the world are washed away completely as he catches sight of the ducks. The smile is pure and unalloyed: symmetrical (unlike a smirk) and swelling.
And in a matter of moments, it's gone. Worry replaces pleasure, confusion trumps mindless happiness. The transformation is fast and brutal, and totally believable, a testament to the breadth of Gandolfini's acting chops as he navigates the extremes of an extreme character. —JE