20 Jun 2013

Sopranos actor James Gandolfini dies in Rome

Tributes pour in for James Gandolfini, the American actor best known for his role as the mob boss in The Sopranos, who has died at the age of 51.

Tributes to Gandolfini came from Hollywood’s biggest stars and beyond.

Steven van Zendt, who played Silvio Dante alongside Ganolfini in The Sopranos said on Twitter: “I have lost a brother and a best friend. The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time.”

Peter Capaldi, who starred opposite Gandolfini in the film In The Loop, said: “I was a huge fan of James Gandolfini’s. To actually work with him was one of the highlights of my career. He lived up to my expectations in every way.

“But what I will remember most about him, was not just the incredible truth and power of his acting, but his kindness and grace as a man. He was revered by us as an actor, but set us an even greater example as a man.”

Actor Samuel L Jackson said Gandolfini’s death was a “massive blow to the acting community today”.

Comedian Robin Williams wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers go out to James Gandolfini’s family. An extraordinary actor. RIP, Mr Gandolfini,” while actress Mia Farrow said: “Awful awful news. James Gandolfini will be missed. He was a great actor. Just great.”

Oscar winner Susan Sarandon tweeted: “So sad to lose James Gandolfini. One of the sweetest, funniest, most generous actors I’ve ever worked with. Sending prayers to his family.”

Actor Michael J Fox added to the tributes on Twitter. He said: “Shocked and saddened by James Gandolfini’s passing. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”

Varied performer

Gandolfini’s performance as Tony Soprano was indelible and career-making, but he refused to be stereotyped as the bulky mobster who was a therapy patient, family man and cold-blooded killer.

After the series concluded with an ending that left viewers guessing, Gandolfini’s varied film work also took in comedy, with Armando Ianucci’s political satire In The Loop, and voiceover as the Wild Thing Carol in Where the Wild Things Are.

James Gandolfini has died of a suspected heart attack (Image: Reuters)

His film credits included Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly, and he also shared a Broadway stage in 2009 with Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden in the celebrated production of God Of Carnage, for which he earned a Tony Award nomination for best actor. He also was in On the Waterfront with David Morse.

In an interview in December, Gandolfini said he gravitated to acting as a release, a way to get rid of anger.

“I don’t know what exactly I was angry about. I try to avoid certain things and certain kinds of violence at this point. I’m getting older, too. I don’t want to be beating people up as much. I don’t want to be beating women up and those kinds of things that much any more.”

Twitter response

Channel 4 News asked our Twitter followers what their favourite Gandolfini scenes are. Many of the scenes were from The Sopranos, including Heather suggesting “One of the darkest ever scenes on TV. Tony Soprano smothering Chris in the car,” and Nathan Griffiths saying “protecting Meadow’s honour against Coco. But to many to mention.”

However, there were also suggestions from his film work – including the scene where he sings A Man Without Love in Romance and Cigarettes, his portrayal of woman-beating hitman Virgil in True Romance, and his four-lettered battle with Peter Capaldi’s Malcom Tucker in In The Loop.