REWIND: Gandolfini's Pearly Gates Response

REWIND: Gandolfini's Pearly Gates Response

How did the late James Gandolfini answer the 'Inside the Actors Studio' question?

By Kevin O'Donnell

It's one of the highlights of every episode of Inside the Actors Studio when James Lipton asks his guests about what God would say to them when they arrived at the Pearly Gates.

And when the late James Gandolfini, who died on June 19 of a possible heart attack, sat down with Lipton in 2004, he gave an answer that impressed the audience—and Lipton—forever.

"Finally, Jim," Lipton began, "if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?"

"[God would say] take over for a while, I'll be right back," Gandolfini joked. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no—"

"That's it!" Lipton replied, before Gandolfini interjected, ""No, no, no, no—"

"You dare not change [your answer]," Lipton said. "It's too good, it's too good. It's one of the best we've ever had."

"Think of the possibilities," Gandolfini mused.

On Thursday, Lipton took a moment to remember the Sopranos star's tremendous talent. "When James Gandolfini was on Inside the Actors Studio, our students discovered how thoughtful the real James was," Lipton said. "And how caring he was about the craft he practiced so effortlessly that it didn't look like acting at all. Like all of the finest actors, James convinced you that whatever you were seeing and hearing was just James being James, with no artifice or design. In fact, it was James being precisely what the writer had written and the director had asked for. We've lost a wonderfully skilled actor."

Watch a clip of Gandolfini on Inside the Actors Studio, where he reflects on working with Lorraine Bracco on The Sopranos:

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