This is tragic. The brief and brilliant career of actor James Gandolfini has come to a close. Gandolfini, the star of “The Sopranos,” has died in Italy of a heart attack at the age of 51. Known as Tony Soprano on the iconic HBO series, Gandolfini was an Emmy-winning actor, taking home the Emmy three times for his portrayal of the New Jersey mob-boss. He remained in business with HBO, starring in film Cinema Verite and executive producing Hemingway & Gellhorn.
According to HBO, Gandolfini was on vacation at the time when he had a heart attack.
Confirmation has occured over at Nikki Finke’s Deadline: Chris Albrecht who greenlighted the crime family saga at HBO and gave Gandolfini his start, just emailed Deadline’s Nikki Finke: “Absolutely stunned. I got the word from Lorraine Bracco and just got off with Brad Grey who had just heard from David Chase. We had all become a family. This is a tremendous loss.”
David Chase, The Sopranos creator, issued this statement today: “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 Lilliana, 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.” Gandolfini’s fellow actor on The Sopranos, Tony Sirico who played “Paulie” had this to say: “Tony was one of my best friends in life, he was there whenever I needed him. Not only did he help me with my career, but also in life, god bless him. He and I were always helping the troops, we even went to combat zones to visit the Marines. He will be missed.”
HBO released this statement on the passing of Gandolfini : ”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.”
According to Italian news agencies, Gandolfini was travelling in Italy with his 13-year-old son Micheal, ahead of his scheduled June 22 on-stage conversation at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. He suffered from a heart attack in the bathroom of Rome’s Hotel Exedra. His son reportedly alerted hotel staff.
Feature credits for Gandolfini included “In the Loop,” “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Killing Them Softly.”