James Gandolfini, best known for his role as New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano in HBO drama "The Sopranos," has passed away at age 51. Deadline broke the news that the actor died of a suspected heart attack, with the New York Times' Dave Itzkoff confirming via HBO that it happened as he was in Rome. Gandolfini was slated to appear in conversation with director Gabriele Muccino at the Taormina Film Festival this week.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Gandolfini's defining role was as Tony Soprano, the antihero of David Chase's series and one of the iconic characters of our current golden age of television -- a mob boss whose attempts to balance conflicts at home and within his criminal organization led him to seek therapy. Gandolfini won three Emmys for his work on the series, which ran from 1999-2007.
In addition to his turn as Tony Soprano, Gandolfini's film work included memorable roles in "True Romance," "Get Shorty," "The Man Who Wasn't There," "Romance & Cigarettes," "In the Loop," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Not Fade Away," Chase's feature directorial debut.
HBO released the statement below:
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.