James Gandolfini died Wednesday while on vacation in Italy. He was best known for his role as an anxious mob boss on HBO’s “The Sopranos.” He was 51. His managers said it might have been a heart attack, but they don’t know for sure.
His body is in the morgue of a hospital in Rome. Once the U.S. Embassy gives a death certificate to Gandolfini, his body can be brought back to the U.S.
In a joint statement, managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders said, “It is with great sadness that we tell you that our client, James Gandolfini, died today while on vacation in Rome, Italy.” “He broke our hearts, and we will miss him very much.
He and his family have been a part of our family for a long time, and we are all sad about his death. This week, the actor was supposed to show up at the Taormina Film Fest in Sicily.
Gandolfini won three Emmys for playing the angry mob boss Tony Soprano, who went to a therapist and took Prozac while killing people. From 1999 to 2007, “The Sopranos” was on TV.
Edie Falco, who played Tony’s wife Carmela, said she was “shocked and devastated” by the news.
“He was a man with a lot of depth and sensitivity, and he was so kind and generous that words can’t describe it. I feel very lucky to have worked closely with him for ten years. In a statement released Thursday, Falco said, “My heart goes out to his family.” “One of the best loves I’ve ever seen was between Tony and Carmela.”
“Jimmy was the spiritual center of our Sopranos family, and I am shocked and saddened by his death,” said Chris Albrecht, the former head of HBO who gave the show the green light. “He had great skills, but he was an even better person. His family is in my thoughts.”
TimeWarner is the parent company of both CNN and HBO.
Steve Van Zandt, who played Tony Soprano’s friend Silvio Dante, felt the same way about James Gandolfini. He wrote on Twitter, “I have lost a brother and my best friend.” “One of the best actors of all time has passed away.”
Biography.com says that Gandolfini was born on September 18, 1961, in the town of Westwood, New Jersey. He got his degree from Rutgers University and, according to the story, worked as a bartender and a bouncer in New York City until he went with a friend to an acting class.
He first appeared on Broadway in a revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin in 1992. Gandolfini’s first role on the big screen was as a tough guy in the 1993 movie “True Romance,” which was full of blood. In 1999, he got his big break on TV when he was cast as Tony Soprano.
“He was a genius. David Chase, who created “The Sopranos,” said in a statement, “Anyone who has even seen him in a small role knows that.” “A lot of that genius was in those sad eyes,” he said. The tabloids said that Gandolfini was sometimes hard to work with because he didn’t like talking to the press.
“He wasn’t always easy. But he was my partner and my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain,” Chase said. Gandolfini was known for playing sometimes cruel and often intimidating characters, but those who worked with him said he was an actor who put his whole heart into his roles.
“He was so good at showing how he felt. Matthew Warchus, who directed Gandolfini in the 2009 Broadway play “God of Carnage,” called him “a very passionate and very, very tender man.” “I really loved him and thought a lot of him.”
Larry King saw Gandolfini a few weeks ago in Las Vegas. He told CNN that the actor was “jovial and seemed happy.” “He made his mark on ‘The Sopranos’ so much that people have forgotten about his many other roles,” King said. “He had a lot of different roles and became a star.”
In 1994, Gandolfini was filming in an office where IReporter Shana O’Neil worked. She smiles as she says, “He was Jersey through and through.” “I just think of him as that guy,” she said. She said that the fact that he was in the TV show “The Sopranos” didn’t change how she thought of him.
Gandolfini has been in movies like “The Last Castle” with Robert Redford, “The Mexican” with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, and “Surviving Christmas” with Ben Affleck. In the past few years, he has been in a number of movies, including “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Taking of Pelham 123,” and “Killing Them Softly,” all of which were nominated for Oscars.
Gandolfini was also known to kids because he voiced Carol, a wild thing, in the 2009 movie version of “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. To celebrate Sendak’s 80th birthday, he went on stage and read from “In the Night Kitchen.”
People who had worked with the actor were shocked and saddened by the news of his death, which spread quickly.
“James Gandolfini was nice, funny, and a great person. I’m so glad we worked together. His family has my love. Olivia Wilde, who worked with the actor in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” wrote on Twitter, “Such a sad, sad day.”
Steve Carell, who was in both “Office” and “Wonderstone,” just wrote on Twitter, “James Gandolfini. What a sad thing.” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said that he was a “huge fan” of James Gandolfini.
“It’s a terrible surprise. He said, “James Gandolfini was a great actor, a Rutgers graduate, and a real Jersey guy.” Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, said that if his managers are right and he died of a heart attack, it happened much too soon.
“If this is what we’re talking about, the average age of someone having their first heart attack is in their mid-60s,” he said.
Gupta says that smoking, not getting enough exercise, being overweight, and having high cholesterol can all lower the age range by a lot. Gandolfini’s wife, Deborah, and their 9-month-old daughter, Liliana, are the only people who will remember him. Michael, his son from another marriage, is also still alive.