James Gandolfini, the gifted and charismatic actor who, with The Sopranos creator and showrunner David Chase, developed the most nuanced, detailed and arguably fascinating television character of all time in the form of mob boss Tony Soprano, has died of a heart attack in Italy.
The actor was reportedly in Sicily to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival and planned to collaborate with Italian director Gabriele Muccino.
Details of his death are scant at the moment, but a source told the New York Daily News that Gandolfini died following a “massive” heart attack.
While Gandolfini became most famous for his three-time Emmy-winning portrayal of Tony Soprano—a mob boss/ family man with deeply-rooted psychological problems, whose strange journey through middle age and the death of the American Century became a dark and DeLillo-esque metaphor for modern American life—the New Jersey native had starred in several memorable roles throughout his career, frequently portraying emotionally complicated heavies in films like True Romance, Get Shorty, The Mexican, The Man Who Wasn’t There, In the Loop, Killing Them Softly and Not Fade Away.
A press-and spotlight-averse man, Gandolfini quietly amassed an incredible career of roles, with Tony Soprano, for better and worse (it’s hard to see him as anything else), looming as the dark star at the center of his character universe. His final role will be in the 2014 film, Animal Rescue.
Gandolfini is survived by his second wife, Deborah Lin, and two children.
What is your favorite Gandolfini performance?