Belgian film director Michael Roskam says it was an honor to work with the late actor James Gandolfini on The Drop, their big-screen adaptation of Dennis Lehane's short story.
"First of all, [Gandolfini] was a great actor. A great artist and also a wonderful man. It was great to work with him. It was such an honor to be a director and having to see this man, icon, one of the greatest actors of his generation, perform so close to you and to see it happening. You're looking at your little monitor and he's there and then you say, 'Cut!' And he's the great man who's there. It was very inspiring, I think, for all of us. It was just a great honor," Roskam said at a weekend press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Lehane said he tailored his screenplay to Gandolfini's strengths after learning The Sopranos Emmy winner had joined the film's cast.
"When Gandolfini came on, I said, 'I want to throw in some dialogue.' Because of the way that Gandolfini can turn street speech into a symphony, you know what I mean? Boom! Give him some extra stuff! It's just a real joy to write like that. Hands-down, this was the single most positive screenwriting or teleplay-writing experience I ever had," said Lehane, who has also penned scripts for TV's Boardwalk Empire and The Wire.
Gandolfini died in June 2013 at the age of 51. His celebrated film Enough Said was screened at last year's Toronto Film Festival.
Co-starring Tom Hardy, Ann Dowd, Chris Sullivan and Noomi Rapace, The Drop opens nationwide Friday. Hardy and Gandolfini play respectively a Brooklyn bartender and his cousin who get caught up in the dangerous world of money-laundering.