Actor James Gandolfini, who is best known to TV fans as the one and only Tony Soprano, is dead.
The actor passed away suddenly in Italy after suffering an apparent heart attack. He was 51.
“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” HBO said in a statement. “He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”
Gandolfini, of course, starred in HBO’s long-running hit series “The Sopranos,” winning three Emmys in the process. He was in Italy to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily, according to TMZ, and was supposed to participate in a festival event this weekend with Italian director Gabriele Muccino.
“Jimmy was the spiritual core of our ‘Sopranos’ family, and I am stunned at this devastating loss. He was a great talent, but an even better man,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht (who oversaw “Sopranos” at HBO) said to Variety.
Tony Sirico, who played Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri on “The Sopranos,” told The Wrap that “Jimmy was one of my closest friends in life. He helped me with my career as well as my personal life. We visited troops together in Iraq and became very close. He will be missed and I love him.”
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The actor was preparing his return to HBO, in the recently ordered seven-part series “Criminal Justice,” based on an adaptation of Peter Moffat’s 2008 BBC crime drama. Gandolfini was set to play Jack Stone, a jailhouse attorney who frequents police stations for clients. Now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the series “is in limbo.”
Meanwhile, shock and dismay spread through Hollywood, as actors, producers and executives mourned that loss of the actor.
“The world just lost one of its great actors. James Gandolfini has passed away. Thoughts to his family. Such a talent. I’m saddened,” tweeted Ewan McGregor.
“So sad to lose James Gandolfini. One of the sweetest, funniest, most generous actors I’ve ever worked with. Sending prayers to his family,” wrote actress Susan Sarandon.
“I’m truly heartbroken to hear that James Gandolfini has passed away. He is one of my all time favorite actors. Tragic loss,” said Jonah Hill.
He is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, a son and a baby daughter.