R.I.P. James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini, 51, has died of a heart attack.

Though the exact cause of death is not yet known, reports indicate that the New Jersey born film and television actor died in Rome on holiday en route to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. 

Though a seasoned and celebrated film presence, the three time Emmy winning actor is professionally synonymous with his towering portrayal of rage-prone mob boss Tony Soprano in the landmark HBO drama series The Sopranos, a role which singlehandedly popularised the deeply flawed anti-hero so familiar to modern TV drama audiences. Tony was an original and so was Gandolfini.

HBO released the following statement: “We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a
beloved member of our family. 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.”

David Chase, Sopranos creator and showrunner, said in a statement: “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
Deborah and 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

Gandolfini is survived by his wife Deborah Lin, their infant daughter and a son from a previous marriage. He will be missed.