June 19, 2013 7:06 PM by Smash
Deadline – I’ve learned that actor James Gandolfini died suddenly in Italy after a suspected heart attack. He was 51.
Gandolfini will be forever known for his portrayal of mob boss Tony Soprano on the seminal HBO series The Sopranos, which won him three Emmy Awards. 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.” Grey was the executive producer and Chase the creator of The Sopranos. Overweight, balding, with a thick New York accent, Gandolfini was the opposite of a marquee leading man and yet he proved through his masterful acting that he could make Tony Soprano sexy and smart.
Gandolfini remained in business with HBO starring in film Cinema Verite and executive producing Hemingway & Gellhorn. He was set to topline a new limited series for HBO, Criminal Justice, one of several projects he had in the works. Gandolfini was most recently seen in the features The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Zero Dark Thirty.
Wow. I don’t know why but I was pretty shocked by this. I’ve never watched The Sopranos but did see him in Zero Dark Thirty. Always liked him for really no reason. Seemed like a normal guy you’d have a beer with. Definitely way too young to pass away. Sad stuff.
Rest easy, James.