HBO Was Reportedly ‘Concerned’ About ‘Sopranos’ Star James Gandolfini ‘Staying Alive’

by Anna Dunn
(Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)

The Sopranos is an absolutely historic TV show, but during filming, HBO was worried about star James Gandolfini’s health. This has come to light in a new tell-all book that has a big section about what things were like behind the scenes of The Sopranos.

The book, “Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers,” is written by James Andrew Miller and informs readers about the secrets the iconic network definitely doesn’t want people to know.

Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers is out now. It goes beyond looking at The Sopranos and examines the network’s rise to power. The network continues to host some of the most highly regarded shows on television like Succession, Euphoria, and The White Lotus and has previously created Game of Thrones, The Wire, and many other modern staples.

Former HBO Head and Time Warner Chairman Jeff Bewkes told Miller about production’s concerns about Gandolfini’s health.

Gandolfini would go on to pass away in 2013 at the age of 51. He died of a heart attack.

Gandolfini’s Substance Abuse Struggles Concerned the Network

“We were concerned about Gandolfini staying alive. Occasionally he would go on a bender or a coke binge. We had to stop production,” Bewkes told Miller. It’s not the first time you’ve probably heard of Gandolfini’s devastating substance abuse issues.

Apparently, these re-schedules were really difficult on production, and Gandolfini was embarrassed every time he missed.

Bewkes also described drinking with Gandolfini at the Golden Globes.

“[Gandolfini would bring] two or three bottles of good Italian wine, so we didn’t have to drink the s – – t Merlot they serve at the [Golden] Globes,” Bewkes said.

“Like he would be embarrassed if I knew he was drinking at the table. I drank with him thinking it would calm him down. I guess I was stupid,” he continued.

HBO Held an Intervention for ‘The Sopranos’ Star

Gandolfini played mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos during its run from 1999-2007.

Eventually, the substance abuse issues got so troubling that the network hosted an intervention for Gandolfini at his apartment. But Gandolfini did not take kindly to this.

“The intervention wasn’t my idea. I think [it was] his family’s idea because his sister was there. It was definitely a crisis situation,” Bewkes said. “I don’t remember us being worried he was going to die, but it became a real problem with shooting the show.”

Gandolfini was able to complete the show but still battled with substance abuse after its end. His tragic death in 2013 took him from the world far too soon, and now, those who worked on the show are left with only memories. But his incredible work and the way he helped out others in his cast still have lingering effects.