Gilles Marini Admires 'Brilliant' Gandolfini

Gilles Marini Admires 'Brilliant' Gandolfini

Among the many who were taken aback by Sopranos actor James Gandolfini's passing last week was Gilles Marini, who had a personal connection to the late actor. At this weekend's premiere of The Lone Ranger, Marini shared his remembrances of Gandolfini.

"He was just an incredible human being," Marini said. "...He was always, I believe, a very reserved, very shy man but such a brilliant guy. It's just an honor to have met him and sometimes spent time with him.

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"....Just an awesome guy we lost, more than in the movie industry—as a human being in general. People never had a chance to meet him outside the camerawork—and let me tell you something: The world needs more people like him."

The former Dancing with the Stars contestant was familiar with Gandolfini, who passed away at the age of 51 while vacationing with his child in Rome, through their children, who attended the same school.

Marini says the tragedy has affected his family personally, as it was an eye-opener of sorts for his son.

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"[My son and I] were together doing some sports together when we heard [the news] and my son looked at me...for the first time [in] such a weird way," the 37-year-old actor recounted. "I think my son looks at me like, 'Wow! You're not invincible.'

"I know I'm spending a lot of time because this is my most important job of all my life but I'm going to do that even more now if I can. You never know what's next, you know?"