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Did Tarantino invent Tony Soprano?

Since news broke Wednesday evening of James Gandolfini's death, the Internet has been flooded with paeans to his performance in "The Sopranos" and with good reason: few actors have embodied their characters, literally and figuratively, the way he did Tony Soprano. If it weren't so devastating, it might even seem poetic that both the actor and his most famous creation met such untimely demises (or so we suspect in the case of the latter). "The character is a good fit," he once told New York TV critic and former Salon staff writer Matt Zoller Seitz. "Obviously, I'm not a mobster, and there's other aspects of the guy I'm not familiar with, like how comfortable he is with violence. But in most of the ways that count, I have to say, yeah -- the guy is me."

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