How Tony Soprano Paved the Way for Chris Christie

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James Gandolfini and Tony Soprano were both Jersey boys. And the qualities the late actor injected into his best-known character might have prepared New Jerseyans for Chris Christie as governor.

“The native New Jersey actor imbued the native New Jersey fictional character with his own immediate experience, and then — in vaulting Jersey style — leapt in his performances toward the very heart of our time,” wrote author and culture critic Lee Siegel of Gandolfini for the New York Times.

Siegel suggested that Gandolfini and his Sopranos character ushered in the latest era of New Jersey politics. “Mr. Gandolfini’s uncanny habitation of Tony provided the key to Mr. Christie’s character: schooled in Tony’s fears and insecurities, New Jerseyans could see the wary uncertainty in Mr. Christie’s eyes,” wrote Siegel.

Click on the audio above to listen to Siegel’s conversation with WNYC’s Soterios Johnson.

The funeral for Gandolfini will be held Thursday morning at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan.

(Photo: The funeral for James Gandolfini underway at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Jaleesa Baulkman for WNYC)

(Photo: A program from the funeral. Jaleesa Baulkman for WNYC)

(Photo:Mourners leave the funeral for James Gandolfini in Upper Manhattan. Jaleesa Baulkman for WNYC)

(Photo: Mourners Marcella Moore (stand-in for Edie Falco), Hans Mooy (stand-in for James Gandolfini), Edward X. Young, Claudette Fahrenberg gather outside the funeral for James Gandolfini. Jaleesa Baulkman for WNYC)