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Entertainers, politicians, friends mourn James Gandolfini

By CNN Staff
updated 10:26 AM EDT, Sat June 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Gandolfini's death on Wednesday affected many in Hollywood and beyond
  • Friends and colleagues mourned his passing in tweets and statements

(CNN) -- The death of James Gandolfini, best known for his role as an anxiety-ridden mob boss on HBO's "The Sopranos," on Wednesday affected many in Hollywood and beyond. Friends and colleagues tweeted and made statements after hearing news of the actor's death.

Appreciation: Gandolfini, a pure actor

David Chase, creator of "The Sopranos"

"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. For Deborah and 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."

When the news broke on Wednesday that "The Sopranos" star James Gandolfini died at 51, tributes poured in around the world, including CNN iReport. "So long, paisan" was how Orlando, Florida, resident Pat Tantalo chose to say goodbye to the friend he met on the set of the 2006 film "Lonely Hearts." "When Jimmy arrived, he was bigger than life. He shook everyone's hands and made sure he learned everyone's name. We were just finishing a production meeting and we introduced ourselves. We instantly connected. He planted his huge mitts on my shoulders and called me a little bull." When the news broke on Wednesday that "The Sopranos" star James Gandolfini died at 51, tributes poured in around the world, including CNN iReport. "So long, paisan" was how Orlando, Florida, resident Pat Tantalo chose to say goodbye to the friend he met on the set of the 2006 film "Lonely Hearts." "When Jimmy arrived, he was bigger than life. He shook everyone's hands and made sure he learned everyone's name. We were just finishing a production meeting and we introduced ourselves. We instantly connected. He planted his huge mitts on my shoulders and called me a little bull."
'So long, paisan:' Fans mourn Gandolfini
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\'So long, paisan:\' Fans mourn Gandolfini 'So long, paisan:' Fans mourn Gandolfini
James Gandolfini, who gained fame playing a memorable mafia boss on HBO's "The Sopranos," died after suffering a heart attack in Italy on Wednesday, June 19. Pictured, Gandolfini at the premiere of "Zero Dark Thirty" in 2012. James Gandolfini, who gained fame playing a memorable mafia boss on HBO's "The Sopranos," died after suffering a heart attack in Italy on Wednesday, June 19. Pictured, Gandolfini at the premiere of "Zero Dark Thirty" in 2012.
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
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Photos: \'Sopranos\' star James Gandolfini Photos: 'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
Larry King: 'Sopranos' made him a star
2007: 'The Sopranos' TV legacy
Click through to see people who passed away in 2013. Click through to see people who passed away in 2013.
People we lost in 2013
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Photos: People we lost in 2013 Photos: People we lost in 2013

Vincent Curatola, actor, "The Sopranos"

"This is the loss of a glowing light, an instinctive actor and the type of person who you never got tired of talking to. Since 1998, my work with him grew into a second skin. The words in our scenes together would change but the mutual respect would never change."

The band, Journey, whose signature song, "Don't Stop Believin" was played in the "The Sopranos" finale

"It's truly an honor to have been able to share one of the greatest moments ever in TV history with James Gandolfini. He was an amazing actor -- taken way too young -- and he'll be missed. Our condolences go out to his family."

Mark Ruffalo, co-star in "The Last Castle" and "Where the Wild Things Are"

"Oh Jimmy. It's a crying shame. You stormed in and out. Your voice like velvet granite. From a whisper to a shout. A comet of a man. So long."

Opinion: Gandolfini's gift to television -- and America

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

"It's an awful shock. James Gandolfini was a fine actor, a Rutgers alum and a true Jersey guy. I was a huge fan of his and the character he played so authentically, Tony Soprano. I have gotten to know Jimmy and many of the other actors in the Sopranos cast and I can say that each of them are an individual New Jersey treasure. Mary Pat and I express our deepest sympathies to Mr. Gandolfini's wife and children, and our prayers are with them at this terrible time."

Former CIA chief Leon Panetta, played by Gandolfini in the movie "Zero Dark Thirty"

"James Gandolfini was a friend and a great actor. He wrote me after portraying me last year, which was a great thrill and honor. I told him I was glad an Italian played me -- swear words and all. We laughed together at the fact that tough guys can have a heart of gold. He did, and we will miss him."

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

"Yesterday, we lost a talented actor and advocate for our service members. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gandolfini family."

Chef Mario Batali

"I am totally shocked and devastated by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends. I only hope to help his family any way I can in their grief and mourning."

Actor James Urbaniak @JamesUrbaniak

"I met Gandolfini once after he saw me in a play and his describing a gesture I did on stage is one of my most cherished compliments ever."

Actress Olivia Wilde ‏@oliviawilde

"James Gandolfini was a kind, funny, wonderful guy. I'm so lucky to have worked with him. Sending love to his family. Such a sad, sad day."

Matthew Warchus, director of the Broadway play "God of Carnage" starring Gandolfini

"He was just so good at the emotion. A very passionate man and a very, very tender man... I really loved him and admired him a great deal."

Chris Albrecht, current CEO of Starz and former HBO president who approved 'The Sopranos'

"Jimmy was the spiritual core of our Sopranos family, and I am stunned at this devastating loss. He was a great talent, but an even better man. My thoughts are with his family."

Actor Denis O'Hare ‏@denisohare

"So sad to hear about James Gandolfini -- a lovely man I had the pleasure of working with once. So funny. So humble. So talented."

Actor Jeff Daniels @Jeff_Daniels

"RIP James Gandolfini. A great friend."

Actress Melissa Gilbert @MelissaEGilbert

"I did a play with James Gandolfini 24 years ago in a basement under a bar in the west village. I'm pretty sure it was one of his very first acting jobs. The year I was first elected SAG prez he threw me in the air at the awards party"

Actress Tracey Fairaway ‏@TraceyFairaway

"Found out my fellow cast mate James Gandolfini has died of a heart attack,, we just shot Nicole Holofcener's new film,, I can't believe it #rip James Gandolfini u were a pleasure to know & such a kind, loving, fun guy u will be forever missed. xxox we love u always"

Actor Riz Ahmed, of the upcoming HBO show "Criminal Justice" with Gandolfini, via Facebook

"Oh my god..RIP James Gandolfini. A generous, striving artist and man in his prime. A loss to our shared culture. Was set to work with him next year, feel privileged to have shared a little time with him on set. He laid on treats and shared his success with all he worked with. There would be a sushi chef when he was on set, he would pay for to treat people. He would hold out his contract til other people's were improved. He was a man of the people, a working class hero, and a gentleman. Tony Soprano is the best screen performance of all time, no one else has sustained and shouldered such complexity for so long. Feel utterly shocked and saddened."

Actor Joseph Gannascoli, played Vito Spatafore on "The Sopranos"

"Jimmy and I were not the closest of friends, but I am forever indebted to him. He came with his son and spoke at my wedding, came to my restaurant to meet fans sick as a dog in the rain and stayed for hours. He also said he would go in and talk to David Chase with me if I didn't want to play my role on the show. Just a humble and gifted actor and person."

Actor Steve Schirripa, played Bobby Baccalieri on "The Sopranos"

"Jimmy was a dear friend and like a brother to me. He was a great actor and a great father. I will miss him terribly. I am very sad."

CNN iReporter Randy Robinson, an actor on the 2006 film "Lonely Hearts"

"He was like a big funny bear. He spent some time having fun ... There was this old couch that he would toss everything and anyone off of and lay down for a much needed nap. Well, let me tell you -- he snored louder than a bear could growl. They actually had to wake him because the microphones would pick it up."

Actor and musician Steven Van Zandt ‏@StevieVanZandt

"I have lost a brother and a best friend. The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time. Maureen and I send our deepest sympathy and love to Deborah, Michael, Lily, and all of Jimmy's family.

Actress Maureen VanZandt, @MVZaGoGo, played Gabriella Dante on 'The Sopranos'

I loved James so much. He was a beautiful man and a genius. I was honored to breather the same air as him. I'll love and remember him forever.

Fan and CNN iReporter Melissa Fazli

"James is iconic. He will go down with such names as Robert Deniro, Al Pacino, Warren Beatty, Marlon Brando and Joe Pesci as the best mobster actors. His legacy as Tony Soprano will forever be in the history books. "

Actress Lindsay Lohan, ‏@lindsaylohan

"James Gandolfini was a dear friend and a great man. My heart goes out to his family. He will be greatly missed."

Comedian Damon Wayans ‏@DamonkWayans

James Gandolfini, I never met him, but I feel like I've always known him! He communicated subtext masterfully. RIP.

Actor Kunal Nayyar ‏@kunalnayyar

Rest in Peace James Gandolfini. May your star shine brightly on wherever you may lie.

Actor John Cusack ‏@johncusack

RIP James Gandolfini -- had the pleasure of working with him and knowing him a bit -- always a truth teller- gent and all around class act.

Actor and comedian Dana Carvey ‏@danacarvey

In a thousand thousand years, humans will watch and be moved by James Gandolfini.

Chris Carley, co-owner of Holsten's

"He was such a nice guy when he was here. You know, down to earth and really friendly with all the help that was here, and you know, all the people outside waiting to see him," he told CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey. "Just all around nice guy."

The last shoot of "The Sopranos" was at Holsten's Brookdale Confectionery.

Actress Patricia Arquette ‏@PattyArquette

"James Gandolfini was so talented. It is a loss not just for his colleagues but 4 those who appreciate good work."

Read: Best quotes from the mouth of Tony Soprano

CNN's KJ Matthews, Stephanie Kotuby, Mara Raphael and Douglas Hyde contributed to this report.

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