06/20/2013 09:44 am ET

Celebrities Offer Condolences Following James Gandolfini's Death


An outpouring of grief came from Hollywood Wednesday after the untimely death of "Sopranos" legend James Gandolfini.

Gandolfini died Wednesday night after suffering a heart attack while in Italy with his teenage son, Michael. The passing of the Emmy winner shocked other artists who viewed the 51-year-old as one of the greatest actors of all time.

The HBO star was beloved for his portrayal of anti-hero Tony Soprano, a role that earned him three Emmy wins and six total nominations. The show put the cable network on the map and helped raise television to an entirely different level.

“He was a genius,” "Sopranos" creator David Chase said in a statement to the press. “Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.' There would be silence at the other end of the phone. For [his wife Deborah Lin] and [children] Michael and Liliana this is crushing. And it’s bad for the rest of the world. He wasn’t easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.”

Tony Sirico, aka Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri, said Gandolfini helped him more than anyone else with his career. Steven Van Zandt, who played Silvio Dante on the critically acclaimed series said that he had "lost a brother and a best friend."

“I was just coming off the ferry from Manhattan when I heard [of the tragedy] and I said, ‘I hope this is a rumor,'" Vincent Curatola, who played John “Johnny Sack” Sacramoni, told the New York Post. “We were together at Mohegan Sun in March and had a great time. I don’t know what happened. [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie just called me and said, ‘When they bring him home, we’ll do whatever his family needs,’ because he’s a Jersey boy.”

Gandolfini was born in Westwood, N.J., on Sept. 18, 1961. He grew up in Park Ridge, attended Rutgers University and headed to Broadway in 1992. He appeared in hit films like "Crimson Tide," "Get Shorty," "The Juror," "The Mexican," "Where the Wild Things Are," "Zero Dark Thirty" and, most recently, filmed an upcoming show for HBO titled "Criminal Justice."

He is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, his 8-month-old daughter, Liliana, and his son, Michael.



Stars Express Condolences Over James Gandolfini Death