New Book: James Gandolfini Once Disappeared From 'Sopranos' Set for Three Days

James Gandolfini Headshot 2011
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NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18:  Actor James Gandolfini attends The Cinema Society & Everlon Diamond Knot Collection's screening of "Welcome To The Rileys" on October 18, 2010 at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in New York City.

James Gandolfini's punishing role as Tony Soprano required him to delve into the violent psyche of the character, an experience that began to take its toll on the late actor as the show wore on, a recently released book excerpt reveals.

In January 2002, during filming of HBO's The Sopranos, Gandolfini failed to show up for work for several days, leading many to fear the worst, according to the excerpt, published in GQ's July 2013 issue.

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By that time, Gandolfini had become prone to fits and absences on the Sopranos set, according to Brett Martin's Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution. He often would refuse to work. The next day, he would feel so bad about his behavior that he'd treat the cast and crew to luxury gifts such as massages or a sushi chef at lunch.

So when he didn't show up one Friday night for the filming of Furio Giunta's final appearance, few people panicked, Martin claims.

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But, his absence ended up lasting three days. The production team had shot the scenes that could be done without him, but people affiliated with the show and HBO began to expect the worst, possibly that Gandolfini was dead, and began to prepare a response.

However, on the fourth day of his absence, Gandolfini called the main number of the show's production office from a Brooklyn beauty salon, where he'd wandered into off the street. He called the only number he could remember and asked for a car to take him home.