Todd Kessler said James Gandolfini took him to dinner after Kessler was fired from "The Sopranos."
"He knew what had happened, and he said, 'I'm taking you out,'" Kessler said in "Woke Up This Morning."
Kessler also recalled Gandolfini telling him to be proud of the "great work" he'd done on the show.
Kessler told Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, who starred on "The Sopranos" as Christopher Moltisanti and Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri, in their new oral history of the show, titled "Woke Up This Morning," that Gandolfini became one of his "dearest friends in life as we worked on the show."
"Jim called me up after he finished work that day," Kessler recalled of the day he was fired. "He knew what had happened, and he said, 'I'm taking you out.'"
Kessler, who created the show "Damages," said that while he and Gandolfini were sitting at a restaurant, two women came up to them, and Gandolfini introduced Kessler as a writer on the show he'd just gotten fired from.
"I shrunk, I was so embarrassed," Kessler said. "But they didn't care. And we talked a little bit, they laughed, and then Jim said to me — and it was really one of those moments that will forever stick with me of Jim — he said: 'You do not shrink. You have nothing to hang your head about.'"
Kessler also recalled Gandolfini telling him, "You hold your head high and know that you did great work."
Kessler told Imperioli and Schirripa that "getting fired was something that was really painful but formative."
Elsewhere in their book, Schirripa and Imperioli said that Gandolfini, who died in 2013, once got an anonymous late-night call that went on to inspire an iconic line on "The Sopranos."
"Woke Up This Morning: A Definitive Oral History of 'The Sopranos'" is on sale now.
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