The tragic and sudden death of Sopranos star James Gandolfini, aged just 51, has seen tributes pour in from the great and good of US film and television. But the loss of the man who brought to life mob boss Tony Soprano – and numerous other memorable characters, in films ranging from True Romance to Where the Wild Things Are – has been felt just as keenly in this country, with British stars sharing their thoughts about the man and his work on Twitter.
Ricky Gervais (@RickyGervais) tweeted: “RIP James Gandolfini. An amazing actor that made arguably the greatest drama of all time and a funny, sweet, gentle giant off screen.”
The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci (@Aiannucci), who worked with Gandolfini on movie spin-off In the Loop, said: “People were surprised James Gandolfini was so different from Tony Soprano. That’s because he was a great actor. Warm, gentle and funny.”
Zawe Ashton (@ZaweAshton), star of Channel 4 student comedy Fresh Meat, said: “James Gandolfini will live forever in his inspired, complex, empathetic performances. A true soul off duty too it sounds.”
6Music DJ and 10 O’Clock Live presenter Lauren Laverne (@laurenlaverne) said The Sopranos had been a boon to her: “God bless you for getting me through the first year of my kid’s life, James Gandolfini. I couldn’t have done It without you. RIP.”
Actor Paddy Considine (@PaddyConsidine) – seen recently in ITV’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – tweeted: “Waking up to the sad news about James Gandolfini. Shocked and saddened. A young man at 51. Leaves a great legacy for actors to aspire to.”
Actress Amanda Abbington (@CHIMPSINSOCKS), partner of Martin Freeman, agreed, saying “Shocked and saddened by the news of James Gandolfini. A truly amazing actor. Can’t quite believe it,” while Eddie Marsan (@eddiemarsan), star of the Sherlock Holmes movies, said “RIP James Gandolfini. His performance in the Sopranos changed television and helped to make US cable drama series the new American art form.”
Martin Kemp (@realmartinkemp), no stranger to playing gangsters himself, said “RIP James Gandolfini, The Sopranos. So many hours spent watching your brilliance! You left behind something very special!”
And stand-up comedian John Bishop (@JohnBishop100) tweeted “Shocked about James Gandolfini. A brilliant actor who will be missed and at 51 was too young to leave us. RIP.”
Gandolfini died while on holiday in Rome, from a suspected heart-attack.
In a statement, Sopranos creator David Chase said of the actor: “He was a genius. 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. 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.”