Actor James Gandolfini has passed away while on holiday in Rome, and TV network HBO (who produced The Sorpranos) has confirmed the very sad news. It has been reported that Gandolfini died off a heart attack.
Probably best remembered for portraying Mafia boss Tony Sorprano in the classic HBO TV series, The Sorpranos, Gandolfini’s death is a massive and saddening loss to both the movie world, and the TV world. The actor, who was born in New Jersey, started out in the movies in the little known horror film, Shock! Shock! Shock! in 1987, but before stepping in to the world of movies, Gandolfini also worked as a bouncer, truck driver and night club manager.
He rose to fame by playing Tony Sorprano in the hit HBO TV series The Sorpranos, and the series lasted for seven seasons running from 1999 to 2007. Gandolfini also made a name for himself playing hard men in films, and no one can forget his chilling performance as Virgil in the 1993 Quentin Tarantino scripted thriller, True Romance. He has also been seen playing similar roles in films like 8MM, The Mexican, Get Shorty and Killing Them Softly. Other films in his long list include Zero Dark Thirty, In The Loop and The Taking of Pelham 123.
Gandolfini was currently working on a new TV series for HBO called Animal Rescue, and HBO released a statement on Wednesday:
“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” the network said in a statement. “He was a 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,”
Actor Joseph R Gannascoli, who played Vito on The Sopranos paid tribute on Wednesday night. He told website TMZ: “James is one guy who never turned his back on me. He was the most humble and gifted actor and person I have ever worked with … He was a great man and I will forever be indebted to him.”
“It was such an honor to work with Mr. Gandolfini and nothing but a pleasure to see him perform. He was one of the greatest. I’m so sad and thinking about his family. I wanted to make him proud with the movie we made together and now it will be in his loving memory,” said “Animal Rescue” director Michael Roskam.
David Chase, who created the character Tony Sorprano, said:
“He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.’ There would be silence at the other end of the phone. For (wife) Deborah and (children) Michael and Liliana this is crushing. And it’s bad for the rest of the world. He wasn’t easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.”
RIP to a very special talent indeed, and thoughts are with James’ family and friends.