Springsteen Guitarist Steven Van Zandt Says He Misses Late ‘Sopranos’ Co-Star James Gandolfini “Every Day”

Longtime E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt’s wide-ranging career in the entertainment business was the subject of a 60 Minutes profile this past Sunday that included a focus on his relationship with his musical “boss,” Bruce Springsteen. Meanwhile, in a bonus online-only 60 Minutes Extra segment, Van Zandt reflected on his friendship with his Sopranos co-star, the late James Gandolfini.

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“I miss him every day,” Van Zant admitted about the Emmy-winning actor, who died of a heart attack in June 2013 at age 51.

[RELATED: Steven Van Zandt Provides Update on Bruce Springsteen’s Health]

Van Zandt explained that he’d never acted before accepting the role of Silvio Dante, who served as the consigliere of Gandolfini’s character, mob boss Tony Soprano. He said that he couldn’t help but look good when he did a scene alongside the Sopranos star.

“The trick of acting, of course, is not acting,” Van Zandt said with a laugh. “So … it takes a minute to learn that, but … I’ve said this a million times, but … you do a scene with Jimmy Gandolfini, you walk away a better actor. It’s as simple as that. You know, he’s just so good.”

Van Zandt further noted that he respected Gandolfini for “his humility,” adding, “Jimmy just set that tone right away. Just utmost respect, right away.”

Van Zandt also pointed out that Dante, as The Sopranos creator David Chase initially envisioned him, wasn’t supposed to be Soprano’s underboss, but as he worked with Gandolfini during the course of the HBO series’ first season, the two bonded and the Dante character developed.

The 72-year-old musician and actor recalled Gandolfini’s humble attitude, which helped put him at ease.

“[H]e would pull me in front of the mirror and he’d say, ‘Look at this face. Look at this face. Do you believe they cast me as the lead in this thing?’” Van Zandt remembered Gandolfini saying about himself. “But slowly, I become the underboss and consigliere.”

He added that once he became confident in the role, he also was able to use his experience as Springsteen’s right-hand man as inspiration for playing Dante.

“Now I know what I’m doing,” Van Zandt explained, “because I’ve been doing this my whole life, with Bruce.”

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

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