The Sopranos

James Gandolfini’s Sopranos Family Remember His Brilliance on Set — and Joke He Was a ‘Maniac’ Between Takes (Exclusive)

Lorraine Bracco, Steve Buscemi and Aida Turturro told PEOPLE about the bonds they formed with the late actor, with Turturro sharing, “I talk to Jimmy all the time, and he answers me too”

James Gandolfini is at the center of the room when The Sopranos cast gets together, even if it’s only in spirit.

The late actor, who died suddenly at age 51 in 2013, was on many of the stars’ minds at the show’s 25th anniversary party in New York City on Wednesday, as Lorraine Bracco tells PEOPLE, “I always think about him.”

“I have moments that I have in my mind, or something will happen, that Jimmy will come back to me,” Bracco, 69, says, noting that “it’s always nice to see his son,” Michael, who was also in attendance at the reunion event.

Michael’s presence at the star-studded event, hosted at 30-year-old Italian restaurant Da Nico, brought up a lot of emotions for many of the actors, too. Aida Turturro admits, “It hit me hard.”

“I wasn’t ready, because I’ve seen Michael many times, but you know what? He grew up a little and he looks so much like Jimmy,” she says. “It weirded me out a little. I got a little sad.”

The actor, who stepped into his father’s footsteps – literally – and took on the role of Tony Soprano himself in the 2021 prequel film, Many Saints of Newark, is “part of the family,” Kathrine Norducci adds. Throughout the night, every cast member took the time to stop and greet him with a hug and a warm welcome, and Narducci says “he’s grandfathered in.”

“We look at Michael with such extreme love,” she says. “Jimmy would be so happy that we love him so much.”

The actress, who played Nuovo Vesuvio owner Charmaine Bucco, also raves about Michael’s portrayal of his late father, calling it a “full circle” moment that would’ve made Jimmy “smile from ear to ear.”

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