Fans will never forget James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano.

But, like many aspiring thespians, long before the actor found fame he was struggling to catch his big break.

Watch: James Gandolfini's 6 Most Notable Roles Outside of The Sopranos

Click here to check out the video of a 27-year-old James portraying a bad guy in the 1989 student movie, Eddie, which cost just $10,000 to make.

The picture's director, David Matalon, 44, told MailOnline: "When the camera rolled, something electrifying was happening."

The former NYU film student found James after they put an add in Backstage, an industry newspaper that advertised auditions.

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"I lived in Brooklyn and at that time it was the 'Saturday Night Fever Brooklyn', you met a lot of tough guys along the way and we were casting a tough villain," recalls Matalon. "When you’ve seen it for real, you know when people are playing at it…and so we hadn’t found anyone, I had no-one to play my bad guy."

But that all changed when James showed up extremely late for his audition.

"We were closing the room up for the night, it was late, almost 11pm, and this giant guy stepped off the elevator, he looked like he was going to kill us!" recalls Matalon.

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"He apologized and said he had been at work, he was working as a doorman at the Blue Note, if I remember correctly, and he said 'I would like to read for you guys.'"

It was clear James had what it took to become a big star.

"He gave this very brutal intense monologue and he just killed it. I said 'you got the part'—he  was riveting to watch," says Matalon.

As reported, James passed away at age 51 of a heart attack on June 19 while vacationing in Rome. His body was flown back to the U.S. four days later. His funeral will be held on Thursday, June 27 in New York City.

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