Sad and surprising news from Italy, where Sopranos' star James Gandolfini died of an apparent heart attack today at age 51, reports TMZ. (Other reports say a stroke.) The actor who brought Tony Soprano to life on HBO for six seasons was in Sicily for a film festival, says the Hollywood Reporter. He won three Emmys as best actor in the role, but he also had a busy film career before and after the show. It ranges from 1993's True Romance (where he drew notice as a hitman) to more recent films such as Zero Dark Thirty.
"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," writes Nellie Andreeva at Deadline. HBO confirmed the death of the Jersey native in a statement: “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.” (Read more James Gandolfini stories.)