During Thursday's funeral service for James Gandolfini, The Sopranos' creator David Chase read a letter to the late actor as his eulogy.
"When I said before that you were my brother, this has a lot to do with that: Italian-American, Italian worker, builder, that Jersey thing — whatever that means — the same social class," Chase said at the 90-minute ceremony held in New York's Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, according to Hitfix. "I really feel that, though I'm older than you, and always felt, that we are brothers."
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Chase continued, reflecting on a memory of when Gandolfini was going "through a crisis of faith. He read, "I went to meet you on the banks of the Hudson River, and you told me, you said, 'You know what I want to be? I want to be a man. That's all. I want to be a man.' Now, this is so odd, because you are such a man. You're a man in many ways many males, including myself, wish they could be a man.
"The paradox about you as a man is that I always felt personally, that with you, I was seeing a young boy," Chase continued. "A sad boy, amazed and confused and loving and amazed by all that. And that was all in your eyes. And that was why, I think, you were a great actor: because of that boy who was inside."
According to the New York Daily News, approximately 2,000 seats had been set up for the memorial, where Chase, Gandolfini's widow Deborah Lin and two family friends Susan Anton and Thomas Richardson paid tribute to the actor. "My husband was an honest, kind and loving man," Gandolfini's widow Deborah Lin said. "He cared more about others than himself. ... Thank you for the memories of the beautiful life we spent together. I love you Jim, and I always will. Rest in peace."
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Rev. James Kowalski, who presided over the funeral, shared his respect for Gandolfini's portrayal of a mob boss. "If a violent gangster could force me to think more about family conflicts ... and the possibility of redemption, maybe there is this thing called hope," he said.
Other attendees included Gandolfini's Sopranos co-stars Edie Falco, Lorraine Bracco, Jamie- Lynn Sigler Joe Pantoliano, Dominic Chianese, Steve Schirripa, Aida Turturro, Vincent Curatola, Michael Imperioli, John Ventimiglia and Steve Buscemi. Alec Baldwin, Dick Cavett, Dan Grimaldi and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were also in attendance.
Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy on June 19 while traveling with his family. A private, invitation-only wake was held on Wednesday in New Jersey.
Read Chase's full eulogy for Gandolfini here.