'Sopranos': James Gandolfini's coke binge had HBO worried if star would 'stay alive'
James Andrew Miller's latest tell-all book about the behind-the-scenes at HBO shed ample light on 'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini. Titled 'Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers', the book brings out some of the dirt on the famed TV network. In his book, Miller talks about his conversation with Former Time Warner chairman and CEO and HBO head, Jeff Bewkes who speaks at length about Gandolfini's health and how they were worried about him "staying alive".
Although the actor passed away at 51, his health was still a major cause of concern during his time in the six-season run the hit series had. A New York Post report said that the executives were worried following his bender or coke binge that saw them stop production."We were concerned about Gandolfini staying alive. Occasionally he would go on a bender or a coke binge. We had to stop production,” Bewkes said to Miller.
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He also explained that the production delays cost the network quite the sum and “was hard on the other actors’ schedules.” Bewkes added said that he "didn’t pressure" former HBO chairman, Chris Albrecht, about Gandolfini slacking off work because he "thought Jimmy was embarrassed."
The report also added that the actor would bring in "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". In his chat with Miller, Bewkes also added that it was stupid of him to think drinking with Gandolfini would calm him down. "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.”
Albrecht was interviewed by the journalist as well and he spoke about the network's intervention that was hosted at his Manhattan apartment. "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."
"I don’t remember us being worried he was going to die, but it became a real problem with shooting the show . . . It became a lack of respect for the other actors as well, so there were sort of problems that bubbled up,” he remarked. When explaining the intervention, Gandolfini entered the apartment where he found his family waiting for him. Soon after, he screamed, “Oh, f**k this. F**k all of you.”
Gandolfini died of heart attack while on holiday in Rome, in June 2013, to attend the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. He was 51.