Incredibly sad news has hit the internet this morning. Emmy and Golden Globe winner Actor James Gandolfini has died at the age of 51, after suffering a fatal heart attack while on holiday with his family in Italy.
Years before the adult-orientated series boom we’ve come to know and love over the last few years, HBO decided to throw caution to the wind and create a show that dispenses niceties, instead opting for something truly revolutionary. They wanted to make it excellent. They wanted to make it different. The Sopranos tells the story of complex New Jersey-based mafia boss Tony Soprano, who tries to balance his family life with his devious criminal activities.
It was a larger than life role, and they needed a larger-than-life actor to fit the role like a glove. James Gandolfini stepped in, relatively unknown, and managed to make Tony Soprano one of the truly classic characters to ever have been seen on the small screen – a role that would win him three Emmy’s and a Golden Globe., including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor.
Gandolfini started out his acting career on stage, but his feature film debut was as a mob hitman named Virgil in the Quentin Tarantino-penned and Tony Scott-directed True Romance. With one of his films still in post-production, he was also busy working on a new drama show for HBO, titled Criminal Justice.
HBO has released the following statement:
“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.”
I am convinced that his role in Sopranos, one of the main reasons for the success of the show, opened the gates for HBO and other similar channels to be a lot more risky when it comes to producing great series. Tony Soprano, you single-handedly saved us for a lifetime of 7th Heaven re-runs.
Gandolfini leaves behind his wife Deborah Lin, a teenage son, a 1-year old daughter and an indelible impact on the entertainment business.
Last Updated: June 20, 2013