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Panetta Talks James Gandolfini’s Portrayal in “Zero Dark Thirty”


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Jonathan Olley/Zero Dark Thirty, LLC/Columbia Pictures(WASHINGTON) — Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says he has seen Zero Dark Thirty and thinks actor James Gandolfini did “a great job” portraying him in the controversial film.

“The reality is, I like him, I like him as an actor,” Panetta told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz in an exclusive interview. “I’ve met him before, and he did a great job in the movie.”

Panetta said Gandolfini, who is Italian-American like himself, actually wrote him a note apologizing for any shortcomings in his portrayal of him as the CIA director.  Panetta recalled Gandolfini’s note as saying, “As an Italian I’m sure, you know, you probably have a lot of concerns about how I played your role.”

While Panetta calls into question some of the accuracies of the overall film, he said he took no issue with Gandolfini’s acting and says “thank God it was an Italian.”

To hear more of Raddatz’s conversation with Panetta on Zero Dark Thirty, check out the first episode of her new digital show On the Radar.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio