According to multiple reports, actor James Gandolfini has passed away today at the age of 51. Deadline reported that the beloved star of The Sopranos was in Italy when he suffered an apparent heart attack. TMZ added that the three-time Emmy Award winner was there for the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. In addition to his iconic portrayal of Tony Soprano, Gandolfini was an accomplished stage actor who burst onto the scene when he played a woman-beating mob enforcer in True Romance.
In recent years, he used his celebrity to bring attention to issues concerning wounded American soldiers, particularly those returning home with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), producing the documentaries Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq and Wartorn: 1861-2010 for HBO.
Notoriously press shy and not at all fond of talking about himself (he reportedly once told a reporter, “Why are you interested in me? You don’t ask a truck driver about his job.”), Gandolfini appeared on Inside the Actors Studio in 2004, granting James Lipton perhaps the most detailed peek into his life and career. Near the end of the interview, Lipton poses questions from the questionnaire he reads to all of his guests, the final one being, “If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?” Gandolfini’s answer: “Take over for a while. I’ll be right back.” That interview is embedded below.
And, of course, no Sopranos fan will ever forget this, the show’s final scene…
Gandolfini leaves behind his wife of five years, Deborah Lin, and their young daughter, as well as his son from his previous marriage. We will update this post with more details as they become available.
(Sopranos still via)